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ND students attempt to enhance security

Kaitlynn Riely | Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Kristin, a Notre Dame sophomore living on campus who has asked that her last name not be disclosed, felt her privacy had been violated after she was approached by members of her dorm’s hall staff concerning a Facebook.com group she belonged entitled Shower Power Hour – a group centered drinking in the dorm showers.

Kristin and other members of the group were reprimanded by their rectress for being in the club and told to remove the profile from Facebook. No pictures of any member of the group drinking in the showers appeared in the group profile or on the rest of the website.

Kristin said the actions of her hall staff invaded her personal space and strained her relationship with them this year.

“The fact that they’re going through our profiles and looking at all of this stuff and kind of going into our personal space … made me feel attacked, almost,” she said.

Since the girls removed the group from Facebook, the incident stayed within the dorm and was not sent to ResLife.

“I almost wanted to challenge them and tell them to bring it to ResLife, because I want to know how this group proves that we did anything wrong,” Kristin said.

Occurrences like Kristin’s are becoming increasingly common as college and university administrations across the nation are accessing Facebook as a means of cracking down on illegal activities and campus violations.

The Shower Power Hour Facebook group was created as a joke the previous year, Kristin said, and she had not given it much thought since its creation.

“It was very innocent, and the entire situation was just misconstrued and blown way out of proportion,” Kristin said.

After this incident, Kristin and the other members of the group tightened the security on their accounts to prevent administrators and graduate students from seeing information and pictures on their profiles.

“Now it’s only my friends that can see it,” Kristin said. “After the article I was like, I’m not even taking any more chances, this is happening everywhere.”

Freshman Kim Mering said she was not surprised to read in a March 29 Observer article that both the Office of Residence Life and some rectors maintain Facebook accounts.

“It seems pretty expected actually,” Mering said.

Mering said she uses the available security settings to make her phone number, address, and pictures visible only to her friends, making sure people she does not know are not able to view her personal information.

“I’m more worried about the outside people than I am about ResLife,” Mering said.

Sophomore Luke Cieslewicz just recently became a Facebook member and was disappointed to discover that the site is more than a way to exchange information with friends.

He said even though students post their pictures and information on a fairly public website, it is a “low blow” that ResLife and rectors use the site to incriminate students.

“On the one hand these people do have to realize these are images that other people are going to see … but on the other hand I think it is kind of shady dealings to have these administration accounts,” Cieslewicz said.

Junior Tim Masterton also called the actions by ResLife “intrusive,” but says he can understand why they would make use of Facebook. He said he thinks students can avoid the threat of incrimination through Facebook by enabling the security settings.

“I would say it just seems that you can make your profile visible to only your friends so that would kind of eliminate the problem,” Masterton said. “A lot of people are concerned about it just being out for the public [to see], but you can control who sees it.”