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Cell Phone Policy Questioned

We have been hearing reports in the news about the NSA snooping through Google and Yahoo data centers and surveilling phones of foreign world leaders. Many Americans feel these actions cross a line because they fear what this means for the privacy of their own information. Several Columbus Academy students felt likewise after the distribution of the cell phone policy forms in advisory last week. I, personally, am very protective of my phone and was a little nervous when first glancing at the form. I’ve heard similar sentiments from many other students who were also worried about the privacy of the personal information they keep on their phones. I spoke with Mrs. Dillon to find out more.

The Student Cell Phone Policy and Registration form is meant to serve two purposes. The first is a request for phone numbers. As stated by the form, “having these phone numbers on file will help us to contact students in case of emergency.” For example, in the event of a fire, if a student is off campus, the school will have the ability to contact the student directly and ensure everyone is accounted for.

With the cell phone policy having been in place for over a year, Mrs. Dillon said,  “The best way for me to get a hold of a student is the same way for students to get ahold of students, which is to text them: ‘Where are you?’” Student phone numbers will be kept securely in Mrs. Dillon’s office and will not be distributed to anyone.

The second purpose of the form was to serve as a reminder of the cell phone use policy. It seems that many students are unaware that in their enrollment contracts, they have already agreed “to abide by the rules and regulations of The Columbus Academy.” The main points of the policy are the following:

1) Students are permitted to use their cell phones in public areas for computer functions only.

2) A teacher may confiscate a phone, and it may be subject to search “in cases of suspected academic dishonest, a possible violation of Campus Network Acceptable Use Policy, or general inappropriate behavior with  regard to cell phone use.”

There was unease among students about the use of the term “general inappropriate behavior” in the document because it leaves a lot of room for a phone to be searched without a specific reason. This portion of the policy follows directly from the Campus Network Acceptable Use Policy. Administration and the faculty trust that students are going to adhere to the cell phone use policy when using their phone. If a faculty member feels that a student is breaking that trust, however, he or she is responsible for appropriating the phone and taking it to the Dean’s office.

With cells phones only having been allowed for about half of my high school experience, I think that we are privileged to be able to use them as freely as we do. To me, using cell phones as a method of emergency communications shows that we are keeping up with technology at our school, not that our privacy is being invaded. If you think about it, why would any member of the faculty want to search your phone? They aren’t interested in your private information. I don’t think that Mrs. Dillon cares how well my clan is doing in Clash of Clans. The school is simply doing what it can to provide the best security for students.

Written by Nikhil Patel’14


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