December 17, 2007 in City

Student directory a privacy issue

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
 

BOZEMAN – Some students at Montana State University say the new campus directory, the first in a couple of years, violates their privacy.

Christina Carr, a graduate student in geology, complained to student government leaders recently. Carr said that as a teaching assistant, she has just given grades to students, some may be disgruntled and now they have access to her cell phone number and home address.

“I wish revenue generation had not come at the expense of student privacy,” Carr said.

Michael Pasque of the student Senate said some students “absolutely love” the directory and use it to help them communicate with professors and other students. Others are “absolutely angry that some of their information was published,” Pasque said.

“We’ve never seen a response this great,” he said.

Six thousand copies of the phone books were printed. They are available at no charge.

For years, a student marketing club published a directory. In the 1990s, the MSU newspaper took over the job, but the editors stopped producing the directory two years ago, citing the amount of work involved.

This year Target Publishing Co. of Houston approached the Associated Students of Montana State University and offered to publish the directory. The company guaranteed ASMSU a $5,000 payment, plus 10 percent of any money made from advertising sales over $50,000.

The ASMSU Senate approved a five-year contract with the company last spring, and the directories were delivered about two weeks ago. Either side may cancel the contract within 30 days of the delivery.

Pasque said the Senate agreed to the contract not for financial reasons, but to publish information for the benefit of students, staff and faculty.

Some of the directory’s content is available online, but access with the book is easier, Pasque said.

Carr suggested that if the guide is published again, students should be given an easy way to opt out if they do not want their information included. Presently, opting out requires that students give the MSU registrar’s office written notice within the first 10 days of the semester.

Pasque said he agrees that an easier opt-out process should be made available.


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