Santa Clara University

The-Big-Q_Header_4
 

The Big Q

Back to Blog

Emails Exposed

Monday, Oct. 14, 2013

The best student comment on "Emails Exposed" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, October 27th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates. 

**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
 
 
Robert is on the baseball team at a small college in Texas. He’s a high profile player on the team, and as a result he has a lot of followers on Twitter and a large network on Facebook. For this reason, the members of the athletic board at his college think it’s necessary to monitor his social media accounts. In Texas, there is no law to prevent schools from requiring individuals to give up their personal social media login and password information, so Robert is forced to hand over his social media account information.
 
University officials say that the intent of monitoring is to identify potential compliance and behavioral issues early on, enabling athletic departments to educate athletes on how to present themselves online. They regularly check what Robert posts and flag certain postings they have issues with.
 
One day Robert tweets “Skipping class to break bad #schoolsucks #bettercallsaul #breakingbad.” Since Robert publicly admits to skipping class, school officials flag the post and decide to also start monitoring Robert’s email account without informing him.
 
Since the school provides an email account as a service to its students and faculty, it reserves the right to search its own system’s stored data. According to the college’s student handbook, administrators may access student email accounts in order to safeguard the system or “to ensure compliance with other University rules.” The policy does not mention whether or not account owners have to be notified that their emails are searched.
 
When searching Robert’s email account, university officials find several questionable emails between Robert and his tutor. It seems that Robert’s tutor has been sending him all answers to homework assignments and quizzes. As a result of the investigation, Robert is placed on athletic probation and his tutor is fired.
 
 
Should universities be allowed to monitor student email and social media accounts? If so, under what circumstances?
 
What crosses the line between campus safety and invasion of privacy?
 
Are university rules regarding email and social media monitoring too vague? If so, how can these rules be changed for more clarity?
 
Should Robert have been punished for cheating in class if he did not know his email was being monitored? What about his tutor?
 
 
Useful Resources:
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo by cmm08f available under a Creative Commons license.

 

Comments Comments

Darrun Mohan said on Jan 13, 2014
Question 1) Should universities be allowed to monitor student email and social media accounts? If so, under what circumstances? ? 1) Yes they should be allowed, Under the circumstances that they might suspect that a athlete is cheating in school such as in Roberts case. Also, to monitor whether universities are contacting the athletes privately and giving them bribes. Lastly, because the athletes hold a higher standard because they represent the school so they cannot be posting pictures of them doing drugs or drinking because it'll give the school a bad name. Question 2) What crosses the line between campus safety and invasion of privacy? ? 2) Generally what crosses the line between campus safety and invasion of privacy all depends on the level of extent that the school takes it to and the reason for it. An example would be if the school expects that the student is selling drugs or giving answers to tests then they have all right to tap into emails etc. But if it?s for small reasons or precautionary actions then they do not have the right, it all depends on the level of what the person is doing. Question 3) Are university rules regarding email and social media monitoring too vague? If so, how can these rules be changed for more clarity? ? 3)Yes they are a little vague at the moment. The school should print out a contract for players and or students to sign where it briefly explains that students emails will be monitored but, if the student or athlete is suspected of doing anything against conduct of the school they will be monitored and will be tapped within their personal and social lives. Question 4) Should Robert have been punished for cheating in class if he did not know his email was being monitored? What about his tutor? ? Yes absolutely Robert should have been punished because though he may be a talented athlete he is no different than any other student who attends that school. If anything he should work harder than anybody else because he is seen as an icon in the school and a role model. Now for a tutor who is a respected and trusted adult in the school should know the significance of an education and for this individual to be giving out answers they should also be severely punished because they should know better. It?s common for kids to do uncanny things but if a teacher or tutor does this it will spread and the school will have a bad reputation to others. - Like
Meralys Rojas said on Jan 13, 2014
1. I don't believe that Universities should be allowed to monitor student email and social media accounts because if you are in a university then the person is considered to be somewhat an adult, meaning they are responsible for their own actions and capable of reasoning such things as what they should and shouldn't post as well as to do the right thing in all occasions. Maybe the University should be allowed to check if they believe the individual is in danger, or they have suspicions of illegal actions from the person, but if they were to check, then they should have the respect to notify the person that they are doing so. 2.The University was obviously acting on both the campus reputation, and the athletes career, so I don't find that what they did was wrong, except for not letting Robet know. The method of red flagging his posts that they believed could be an issue seemed appropriate, but once they decided to check his emails that was invasion of privacy. That is personal that is why it is not on a social network. If the person we're to agree that they can regulate all of their personal accounts, then by all mean the University should. 3. The rules are quite broad. Perhaps Universities should give students the options of signing a document where it states that they will be on the look out for the campus reputation on social networks, and if they believe their has been wrongful acts on behalf of a student they will check emails, and control their personal accounts. For athletes, such as Robert they could always force them to allow the university to be in charge of all their social networks. University's should also send out an email with the universities specific rules on social media. 4. I can understand that Robert's actions were unethical, but the simple truth is that if they would have not checked his email, which they did not have authority to, he would have probably never gotten caught. Him being on provation seems fair because as an athlete i'm sure the school has rules on getting good grades and doing well in class, and his behavior showed dishonesty in that aspect beacuse if he would have not gotten the answers from his tutor he would most likely be doing poorly in the class, therefore technically he was doing poorly. In my opinion, the tutor is a complete different subject. We don't know her reasons for her actions. Just as the university was acting for the sake of Roberts career by monitoring his social network she could have been doing the same. So does that mean the university staff should be fired for checking Roberts emails without notifying him? The tutor could have gotten a warning or been on a temporary probation as well, rather than fired because most likely Robert would have been gaven another oppurtunity, even if it meant retaking his tests. - Like
Post a Comment

Tags: academic integrity, anonymous, cheating, college, college students, decisions, ethics, exploited, Facebook, instagram, privacy, safety, The Big Q