Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman’s Surveillance state: Presence attendance

Illustration by Tali Hastings

Canadian company Modern Campus (previously known as Presence) has come under increasing scrutiny for the role it plays in collecting student information as a foreign company. However, the real truth of Presence goes far deeper: Whitman College may be using the app to foist a surveillance state upon students. 

As if Whitman students did not experience enough monitoring (swipe access, Duo, staff & faculty on YikYak) the tyranny of campus life administration has required attendance to be collected at club meetings and events. In an Orwellian display of control, you must recite your seven digit identification number, like some sort of robot. Am I not a person to you? Can I verify my humanity by telling you my hopes for the future? Can I share my dreams with you, or am I just a series of numbers?

Don’t know your ID number? Good luck getting into anything (unless of course the attendance taker is really chill and lets you in). And after you fork over your personal information, is it securitized? No, not in the slightest. 

The attendance taker enters your information into their insecure Presence app and this information (while not personal or revealing) is saved and reported to the Dean of Students office, to do what with? Continue to fund events with free food? Accurately track student engagement? Not without a warrant! 

Presence is just one piece of the college’s network of surveillance technology. All those trees are to hide the cameras. The thin Stanton walls are bugged with microphones. The Reid elevator is outfitted with biosensors to find the average body heat of a Whitman student. You don’t even want to know what they did to the ducks. 

Once you open your eyes, Presence attendance doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Think about it … on someone’s computer there is a screen grab of everything you bought at Cleve spring semester of sophomore year … probably. 

The only real way to be safe is to move off campus, delete Duo, leave your real laptop at home, pretend to lose your swipe so you never have to tap in anywhere and only eat from the vending machines. 

Anyway dear reader, check back in next week when I get tested for ‘carbon monoxide poisoning,’ whatever that means. 

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