GWids are the equivalent of students’ social security numbers on campus.
That is why it is troubling that last week, a Columbian College of Arts and Sciences academic adviser accidentally emailed 274 students a spreadsheet with the personal information – including GWids and addresses – of more than 5,000 students in the school. This mistake places private student information in the hands of an undisclosed group of students.
While the occasional administrative mistake is unavoidable, the Columbian College should have taken this opportunity to firmly protect student security.
Instead, Dean of the Columbian College Peg Barratt gave students the option of changing their GWids but also said it was not mandatory, leaving some students unsure of whether or not it is necessary to actually change their GWids.
In a digital age where people are able to access all kinds of information online, students constantly run the risk of having their private information leaked and shared with strangers. The adviser who attached a spreadsheet with GWid numbers to an email and sent it to a group of individuals left Columbian College students even more vulnerable. The University should consider the fact that accidentally sharing GWids via email poses a significant security threat, and it should have made that clear to students.
If there really is no risk, tell students that. Sitting on the fence leaves students wondering if changing their GWids is worthwhile.