This morning I stumbled across this story about a community college student who was suspended for two semesters because he protested on the school's Facebook page the school's forcing students to use student ID offered by a debit card company. He was later reinstated after an advocacy group intervened on his behalf. From the story:
Catawba Valley Community College student Marc Bechtol was suspended for two semesters earlier this week after complaining about the debit card on the school's Facebook page, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Bechtol's Facebook complaint included a suggestion urging readers to find "good viruses" to send to the school or register it for porn sites. On Oct. 4, Bechtol was pulled from class and told he was no longer allowed on campus.
After the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) intervened, Bechtol was reinstated. The school viewed Bechtol’s post as a threat, but FIRE argued that it was protected free speech and not a serious threat…
Bechtol complained last spring that school was forcing him to obtain a debit card issued by financial firm Higher One, and that his personal information would be shared with the company. When he did, he said he immediately began receiving credit card spam, which directly inspired his Facebook comment.
"Did anyone else get a bunch of credit card spam in their CVCC inbox today? So, did CVCC sell our names to banks, or did Higher One? I think we should register CVCC's address with every porn site known to man. Anyone know any good viruses to send them?" he wrote, according to the letter FIRE published.
I currently have one child attending a North Carolina university (UNCC), and will likely have two more attending NC schools in the next three years, and I can tell you I would be quite unhappy to discover that their only choice for student ID is a debit card. I couldn't tell from reading the story if there was any way for students to get an ID that had a deactivated debit card feature, but even if there is I think the student raised a good point – why should they have to deal with their names being sold to marketers?
Something else that bothers me about this story is the school's reaction to the student's Facebook rant. Granted he suggested students register the school with porn sites and/or infect the school's network with viruses, but you'd think the school's administrators would recognize hyperbole when they see it. Or maybe not. Any which way you slice it I'd say they overreacted just a touch.