University Invasion of Privacy

With so many web sites in business to collect as much of your personal information as possible it would seem plausible that we’ve become used to giving away our personal information at a whim. Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace exist to extol and datamine as much personal information as possible from as many different people as possible. It even exists in sites which require that you register before viewing “exclusive” content. This barrier of entry exists in so many places and is set so low most of the time that we consider it normal, shrug it off, hand over the information and continue to what we really wanted in the first place. The acceptance into UNCG, on the other hand, raises this bar so high and aims to extol so much information that it is a rape of your personal information.

In order to be classified as a North Carolina resident a form much be filled out and handed back to the registrar’s office. Universities are businesses like any other really with a single goal: to make money. They institute a policy where anyone who has lived in the state of that university for at least one year is considered a resident of that state and is privy to reduced rates on their tuition. Everyone else must pay the out-of-state fees. The difference between the two classifications can sometimes mean double or more in fees. UNCG’s estimated cost of attendance for the 2008-2009 year for a resident is $4,527. The fees for an out-of-state student is $15,798. That’s nearly a 3.5 times hike in price! So with this kind of incentive to be classified as an in-state student, it’s no wonder they take advantage in collecting information.

The application to be considered an in-state student is so invasive that it’s questionable if it’s really a joke at times. Most of the questions are intended to be answered by the applicant and involve information about their parents but if the applicant is married then their spouse must also answer the questions – even if they are not attending or will ever attend the school. Some of the more interesting question –

  1. List the secondary (high or preparatory) schools you attended in sequence

  2. List ALL post-secondary schools (universities, colleges, junior colleges, community colleges, etc.) you have attended (including UNCG):

The form requires the name, address and starting and ending full date (month, day and year). If you’re married, you’ll have to also list all of the schools your spouse attended.

The form goes on to ask for the applicant’s father and mother’s information. This includes name, occupation and home address with a starting date. If your parents are divorced you will be required to answer questions about court appointed guardians of the children as well as their home address.

  1. List in chronological order to date of this application ALL places you have spent at least seven consecutive days during the past three years. Your response must include your current address, all other places lived, and vacations.

This is one of the more implausible questions. They require the city and state of the place (it assumes that you haven’t visited anywhere outside of the US), the purpose of the visit and, again, the beginning and ending full date of the visit (month, day and year). If you’re married, your spouse will have to also list all of their locations.

  1. Name each state or foreign country where you did each of the following during the last 24 months. List each time you did each such act. (If not done in the last 24 months, list where and when such acts were done the last time you did them; if never done at all, write “never.”):

Ignoring the fact that there are two questions marked as question 22, this question takes the cake. Beneath it are ten subquestions which ask for the state and full date (month, day and year) for each. These questions are: a) registered to vote; b) voted; c) called to serve on jury duty; d) acquired or renewed driver license; e) listed personal property for taxation in the county where you live; f) filed state income tax return and whether or not you filed as a resident or nonresident; g) acquired ownership of property for use as your principal dwelling; h) inclusive dates of such property ownership; i) whether the state income was withheld during the current year, the same question for the previous year, and if the total amount withheld was refunded; and j) registered/licensed a motor vehicle.

  1. List the addresses at which you own and maintain personal property (clothing, furniture, cars, checking or savings accounts, stocks, bonds, pets, jewelry, appliances, etc.) and give the percentage of value (of such personal property) maintained at each address:

The form requires and address and the percent maintained at that address.

  1. List all of your employment for wages in the last 24 months:

Job title, employer, address, starting and ending dates, and number of hours per week are required for each employment. If you’re married you’ll have to list your spouses employment as well.

  1. If you (1) now live regularly with, (2) have lived during the immediately preceding 24 months with, or (3) continue to maintain close ties with and periodically live with another person who is a relative by blood, marriage, or court order (legal guardian), or (4) have been claimed within the immediately preceding 24 months as a dependent for taxation purposes by someone other than yourself, answer the following for each such person. (Answer for only one adult person at each address.) If married, complete for spouse; (if separation occurred within last 24 months, complete for spouse; if divorce occurred within last 24 months, complete for ex-spouse).

This question is a two part question. The first part asks for the name, address, relation, previous address, if they’re a veteran and so on. The second part is the same as question 22 was with asking for voting dates and so on.

  1. In support of your claim to North Carolina as your bona fide permanent residence you must attach copies of your residentiary acts including, but not limited to: your North Carolina driver license, vehicle registration, voter registration, North Carolina income tax returns, year-to-date cumulative wage earning statements from all jobs held during the current year, listing of personal property taxes, etc;

  2. If you are basing your residency upon your spouse’s North Carolina residence, include a copy of your marriage certificate and copies of your spouse’s residentiary acts (listed above);

All sorts of extremely confidential documents are requested in those two questions but what are you to do? If you want to attend the school and would like to avoid the outrageous surcharge tacked on when being classified as an out-of-state student, then you have no choice but to divulge any and all personal information that they require. You can’t refuse to less they deny your acceptance or North Carolina resident status; you can’t falsify any information otherwise you risk being expelled or being denied the diploma that you’ve worked for; you can’t be concerned about seeking permission from the possibly many close people related to you to have their personal information included on your application form.

What is amazing is that all of this information will be consolidated into one form and handed over to one business for their storage. While information such as voting and motor vehicle registration isn’t too hard to come by, they are contained solely within that department – in looking up someone’s voting registration history you can’t find out about their income tax refunds. And of course we’re supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside knowing that UNCG won’t lose our information or leak it somehow, ignoring of course the recent security breach at the Financial Aid office which exposed banking information or the school’s history for such breaches.