American Public Gives Low Marks to Proposed Federal Database of College Students
July 7, 2006
Threat to Privacy, Security Risks, and Financial Costs Cited as Factors against a National Student Tracking System
The survey of 1,000 American adults was conducted June 23-27 by Ipsos Public Affairs. Its margin error is +/- 3.1 percent.
As envisioned by supporters of the "student unit record tracking system," student information would be linked to individuals through a unique identifier. Opponents are concerned that the system could potentially be tied to information from the student’s high school and elementary records, and follow the individual into the workforce.
"It is ironic that we are considering such an assault on Americans’ privacy and security in the shadow of the Fourth of July, when we celebrate the American values of freedom and choice," said David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
Rebecca Thompson, legislative director of the United States Student Association, said, "USSA feels that this is a massive invasion of student privacy. We fear that information in this proposed database could be used for purposes that are unrelated to higher education."
"The proposed student unit record database goes against the commission’s own goal of reducing the federal regulatory burden on higher education," said David Shi, president of Furman University.
Katherine Will, president of Gettysburg College, added that there is "no compelling need for this database. There is no clear case for public policy that would be informed by the information gathered."
Christopher Nelson, president of St. John’s College, called the student unit record database "an Orwellian proposal that would federalize higher education."
"What this poll tells us is that the proposal should be DOA. The public is opposed to it, and the House has already shown its opposition in the Higher Education Act. The commission would do well to reconsider its support for this idea," said Loren Anderson, president of Pacific Lutheran University.
Ralph Wagoner, president of the Lutheran Educational Conference of North America, said, "Supporters of the proposal say it will promote accountability. However, we are already held accountable through the accrediting process, existing federal and state regulations, our trustees, and, most important, by the marketplace."
"This is not a partisan issue," said Rolf Wegenke, president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. "It is a matter of student privacy and the security of personal information."
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