How Much Should Campuses Monitor Student Online Activity?

How much authority do campus officials have when students break school rules in the privacy of their own homes?

I just came across an excellent article from the New York Times on the challenges schools face in monitoring the online (which usually also means “off-campus”) activities of students. On the one hand, school officials know they must prevent cyberbulling as well as identify other threats, such as student comments that may indicate he or she could become violent or suicidal.

On the other hand, they must also respect a student’s First Amendment rights.

Unfortunately, it’s not at all clear the extent of administrators’ responsibilities with this. How much authority do campus officials have when students break school or university rules in the privacy of their own homes?

For me, this article highlights the need for campuses to maintain dialogue with students so they feel comfortable turning to school and college staff should something dangerous develop, either in the real or virtual world. Of course, it is wise to be technically savvy is this age of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Snapchat, but there is no substitute for developing old-fashioned, face-to-face relationships.

What do you think?

Read the article.

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About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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