Officials at Tennessee State University have implemented new rules to force students to carry ID badges that will allow them to be tracked, citing safety and security concerns following a series of criminal acts on campus.
According to local reports, it is already difficult for students to navigate the campus without identification, but the tracking element inherent in the new policy is unnerving to some.
“I use it going to the cafeteria, going in and out of my dorm and driving on campus,” freshman Xavier Johnson said, regarding the importance of his identification, to the local NBC affiliate.
The policy took effect March 1. According to the rules, the ID must be displayed prominently when students are on campus. Before the change, policy only required a student to present ID if asked to do so.
“It kind of reminds me of high school,” Johnson said. “I guess it’s okay. It’s a public university.”
Goal is ‘safety, security’
“Our primary concern is always to provide a safe and healthy environment for all of our students, employees and visitors,” said Dr. Curtis Johnson, Associate Vice President for Administration, who is in charge of Emergency Management. “Safety on our campus is priority number one, and with the new policy, we want to ensure that our students, faculty and staff are safe at all times.”
“Failure to comply with the new policy,” the school said, “may result in employee disciplinary action, student judicial action or removal from University property.”
For the new badges, the design and the technology changed; a built-in chip not only can restrict a student’s access to certain parts of the campus but can also enable them to be tracked when they enter different buildings.
“That gives us another arm to aide our students in identifying potential problems on the campus,” Dr. Curtis Johnson said.
The university says it has made the change because of a rash of campus criminal activity. In the fall, there were several incidents of vandalism; in January, there was a shooting near one of the dorms (the victim was not a student of the university).
“It’s important that we all know who’s a student for our own personal safety,” junior Thomme Davis said. “A lot of students don’t understand why we’re getting this or they find it annoying.”
The school’s ID policy also applies to off-campus university events, reports said.
‘End of privacy as we know it’
Some experts say privacy issues, in this case (and most others), should take a back seat to public safety.
“Security is always the first concern. Privacy is a distant second. What good is privacy when a student is in the hospital as a result of crime?” personal security and identity theft expert Robert Siciliano toldNatural News.
“Everywhere you go there is a privacy advocate screaming to protect your privacy. Privacy advocates, bless them, are a dying breed,” he continued. “They fight for whatever privacy rights there are left and do their best to remain watchdogs. If your gig is privacy, my guess is you have lost all your hair and are popping Prozac to relieve the stress of today’s anti-private society. And you are fully employed and very, very, busy.”
Siciliano added, “Privacy is an illusion. The focus today should be security, not privacy.”
But Dr. Vincenzo Sainato, Ph.D., an associate professor of criminology at City University in Seattle, disagrees. He says taking the extraordinary measure of forcing students to carry traceable IDs is not a solution.
“Not even remotely,” he told Natural News in an email. “There is no empirical research that objectively supports the notion that this will somehow increase campus safety.”
“This is a huge concern to me,” he continued. “This type of measure will have a chilling effect on privacy and freedom. It is the kind of ‘dataveillance’ that will eliminate our right for anonymity — which is subsumed into the First Amendment and guarantees our right to freely associate without intervention, so long as those associations are lawful.”