College Administration Uses Residence Hall Telephones to Spy on Students


Photos by Kaelie Rose

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Student whistle-blowers have revealed that the Whitman College administration has been using dorm room telephones to spy on student interactions. Two student employees, who were hired by the college to listen to the surveillance recordings, spoke with The Pioneer about the program on the condition of anonymity.
Aside from Whitman’s Missionary mascot and investment in fossil fuel industries, it previously seemed that there was nothing more old-fashioned about the school than its inclusion of landline phones in all dorm rooms. According to our anonymous sources, however, these phones are actually high-tech surveillance apparatuses, capable of recording student dorm room interactions and send them for review by administrators.

Photos by Kaelie Rose
Photos by Kaelie Rose

“Basically, the phones are programmed to begin recording whenever the phone’s sensor picks up human voices,” one source said. “It was my job to go through all of those recordings and look for certain things that the college wanted to know about.”
According to our anonymous sources, student surveillance started this semester as a joint project between the organizers of the Campus Climate Survey and the still mysterious Board of Trustees. Each party has different goals for the project, but both center on a lack of trust for the student body and a growing fear of subversive activities.
“The Campus Climate group wants to know what people actually think about the school. They know that Whitman students are too polite and non-confrontational to answer the survey truthfully. Nobody’s gonna say on the survey that they suspect their RA is a peanut butter thieving twerp, or that their roommate masturbates too much and stinks up the room, but they’ll tell their friends that,” an informant said.
The Board of Trustees’ reason for listening to student conversation is allegedly a preparatory move for the possible student battle to get a spot on the Board. According to our sources, the Board hopes to gather incriminatory evidence to show that students are not worthy of serving on the board.
“Students often talk about buying drugs, underage drinking, copying homework, you know, college things. The Board wants to be able to cite that supposedly immature behavior as a reason to deny us student representation,” one anonymous source said.
Students wishing to avoid surveillance should wrap their telephones in tin foil to stop all electromagnetic communication coming from the devices. As an extra measure of safety, students should also conduct personal conversations off campus.
“This is just the beginning,” one informant said. “Who knows what else it bugged…The college controls our Internet access, they have access to our bank accounts and mail, hell, they even control our minds in classes.”