Last semester, colleges got an A+ in student surveillance

Colleges and universities across the country use sophisticated surveillance systems to track their students’ locations.


December 27, 2019

Dozens of colleges and universities across the country use sophisticated surveillance systems to track their students’ locations, according to a recent report from The Washington Post.

So, how did alma maters turn into Big Brothers?

Nominally, schools started surveilling their students to encourage them not to skip class.

Classes at Syracuse University, for example, use systems of bluetooth sensors hidden around auditoriums to detect when a student — or, rather, a student’s cell phone — attends class, and awarding the student “attendance points” for doing so.

Some systems go even further than simply monitoring attendance by calculating individualized “risk scores” based on the amount of time students are spending in libraries.

Critics worry that constant surveillance isn’t good for learning

According to the Post, one student surveillance system that “uses school WiFi networks to monitor movements says it gathers 6,000 location data points per student every day.”

Opponents of this type of system argue students should be encouraged to learn because they want to, not forced to learn because they’re fearful of being penalized.

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