The technology department provides each student and faculty member with a school Google account upon arrival at Haverford. We are all logged into this account throughout most of the school day, and maybe even in our free time, but some members of our community are not aware of the extent of access that the technology department has to our accounts.
“When an organization provides you with a Google account or email address, it is on loan,” Director of Information and Instructional Technology Ms. Andrea Drinkwine said. “You don’t own it. The school owns it and allows you to use it just like you use the athletic facilities and classrooms. So, in that sense, there should be no expectation of any kind of privacy… There are network monitoring tools and E-discovery tools that allow IT administrators to get into any account from any student or employee.”
“I really have no idea what they [the technology department] can and can’t see, and I’d like to know because it can be uncomfortable sometimes when I’m in my own house and I’m still self-conscious about what I am searching.”Andrew Johnson ’22
From Google Docs, to Google Mail, to YouTube and Google Chrome searches, IT administrators have the tools to view a student or faculty member’s every move.
This access raises the question: are students careful of what they search, open, and write in their school Google Account?
“I’m always self-conscious about what I look up,” Sixth Former Andrew Johnson said. “I’m just worried that they [the technology department] might be checking to see what I’m doing. I really have no idea what they can and can’t see, and I’d like to know because it can be uncomfortable sometimes when I’m in my own house and I’m still self-conscious about what I am searching.”
Sixth Former Temesghen Irgau said, “I’m aware that our search history is probably being monitored, or at least they can have access to it, so I’m always more careful on school WiFi.”
Students have varying levels of expectations regarding online privacy, and many are unaware of the privacy agreement they’ve made with the school. When obtaining a school Google Account, each student signed a Responsible Use Policy.
“Any and all activities performed on the School’s network can be monitored, with or without a user’s permission.”Haverford School Responsible Use policy
Part of the policy states, “If users wish to protect the privacy of personal information or communication, do not use The Haverford School’s networked information technology resources to create, store, or transmit it. Students, faculty, staff, and guests should have absolutely no expectation of privacy when using Haverford’s information technology. Any and all activities performed on the School’s network can be monitored, with or without a user’s permission.”
While all students signed this Responsible Use Policy, few recall the specifics outlined or even actually signing it. For many community members, several years have passed since viewing it.
“I don’t really remember signing anything,” Sixth Former Jack Payne said. “I may have signed something, but I can’t say that I remember signing any agreement.”
“This comes down to even when a student is buying an app. Do they read the policy? No, they just hit agree and keep going.”Ms. Andrea Drinkwine
To that, Ms. Drinkwine says, “This comes down to even when a student is buying an app. Do they read the policy? No, they just hit agree and keep going.”
After reflecting on students’ lack of knowledge regarding their online privacy, Ms. Drinkwine understands that confusion is warranted.
“This is something that we know we need to do a little bit more education around,” Ms. Drinkwine said. “This year, I want to progress education around digital citizenship, particularly starting with our youngest boys in the Lower School.”