UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

SS# = Student ID#

According to the Federal Trade Commission identity theft was the top consumer complaint in 2001, and as many as 700,000 people are victims of identity theft. Given these facts we urge the UMass Boston administration to join with other universities in eradicating the use of Social Security Numbers as student ID numbers.

An article in the August 2 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education details that “nearly half of all colleges nationwide still use Social Security numbers as the primary means to track students in academic databases.”

The article also profiles actions taken by students to force universities to discontinue using Social Security Numbers as identification numbers, as well as discussing various states’ legislation “that limit colleges’ display of the numbers to government documents like payroll and financial-aid records.”

State and student governments around the country are trying to protect students from abuse of their private data by the universities they attend. The article in the Chronicle of Higher Education points out mishaps at the University of Texas and at Louisiana State University, but mentions that the “University of Illinois may be a model in protecting privacy,” and that the “University of Florida, for example, is moving to substantially reduce its use of Social Security numbers.”

When the time comes for the article to be written, by the Chronicle of Higher Ed, or the Boston Globe, or even The Mass Media, which category will UMass Boston fall under: an example of a mishap or an example of proactive change?

Many people on campus may be aware of the present circumstances, where the majority of students have their Social Security numbers displayed on their student ID cards, but how will the administration deal with change? How will its various departments react if thousands of students suddenly began to care about their financial futures and request their rights?