OP-EDS

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May 27, 2005

University Accountability

Two major oversights have broken open in one week, questioning the security of confidential documents in one case and accuracy of computer records in the other. In a university of this size, such glitches—though certainly not excused—are understandable. What students must depend on, however, is swift administrative action to correct errors when they do happen. The coinciding announcements demand not only scrutiny on how not one but two serious breaches could occur; the case also offers a contrast in how the University should and should not respond to such a situation.

The softball player's violation of standard NCAA regulation should have been immediately noticed by the Athletic Department. Instead, the entire team suffered from one easily avoidable omission. The department should be commended, however, for taking the initiative to promptly launch and complete an internal investigation and reporting the mistake directly to the NCAA.

In the case of insecure files, it was students who accidentally spotted and then promptly reported the problem. Social security numbers, grades, health records, and financial aid information were all at risk, exposing students' personal information and violating federal standards. NSIT officials should have taken the Athletic Department's lead and immediately secured the vulnerable files. Instead of completely fixing the problem, NSIT removed only the files brought to their attention. Not surprisingly, more confidential files were found after this insufficient repair.

It is clear that computer glitches, and not human carelessness were at the root of both situations. What is commendable on the one hand and questionable on the other is the response of administrators when faced with mistakes. To protect student security, it is crucial that efficient and effective efforts always be taken.