Users of the underground college directory known as the “Better Bowdoin Directory” were greeted by an upsetting message Wednesday when they tried to visit the site. Instead of the usual search bars, they found a screenshot of an email written by Erik Pearson, who works as a team lead of integrations and customization at the College’s Office of Information Technology (IT), to the site’s creator James Little ’19 asking that he remove the site.
“Our Directory takes some care in curating the data it displays and there are questions of privacy when that data is displayed in a way that it was not intended,” Pearson wrote in the email.
Little built the site over three days in 2018 for The Orient’s copy editors because the directory on the College’s new website, which was unveiled that year, was “too tough to use quickly.” However, the Better Bowdoin Directory quickly gained popularity on campus—Little said that, before it was shut down, the website would receive approximately 350 hits per day when students are on campus.
On February 28, Little received an email from Associate Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity and Director of Title IX, Gender Violence Prevention and Education Benje Douglas asking how a student’s information could be removed. Little told Douglas that the College’s IT office controlled the data, and two days later received the email from Pearson asking him to remove the site.
“I hope Bowdoin can make improvements to their directory by securely publishing their data, so that projects like this would be allowed to stay up in the future,” Little said.