The College continuously reminds students to be vigilant about the personal and perhaps incriminating information that we make available on the internet. Following its good advice, many students have recently changed privacy settings and untagged photos, erring on the side of caution. The College, however, has not heeded its own warnings. For an unknown length of time, private student data including Social Security numbers, insurance information, and lists of students on medical and disciplinary leave were available on the campus server to anyone with a Bowdoin username and password. While the accessibility of the data was surely an error, with such sensitive information on the line, it was an inexcusable one.
In an effort to understand what happened and to prevent it from happening again, Bowdoin has hired a firm that specializes in computer forensics. While we commend the College for taking strides to rectify the error, we are disappointed with the administration?s lack of transparency surrounding this important issue. In an e-mail sent to all students, Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis wrote that the breach only involved ?files stored by students and employees within personal network folders,? a seemingly innocuous description, considering that these folders contained enough information for the successful identity theft of the entire Class of 2010. We ask that in future campus-wide correspondence updating students on the situation, the administration aims to avoid such vague descriptors.
We recognize that technological slip-ups are a daily part of our modern lives. However, we can?t help but wonder why it took a call from the Orient for the College to notice the problem. With personal safety a top priority on campus, it seems that the error should have been detected by a staff member long ago during a routine check?not by a student organization acting on an anonymous tip.
The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which comprises Steve Kolowich, Anne Riley, Anna Karass, Adam Kommel, Mary Helen Miller, and Cati Mitchell.