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November 05, 2010


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I am an officer in both my undergraduate and grad school alumni associations. From a student/alumni/consumer point of view, this is a dangerous conflation of an essential public safety reason for collecting cell phone numbers with a non-essential solicitation. Over the course of a student's final semester, there are multiple opportunities for a school to present forms asking for a cell phone number together with other contact information - off-campus mail forwarding, commencement tickets, transcript requests, alumni association invitations, settling tuition bills, employment surveys, etc. At these opportunities, both the school and the student are envisioning a post-graduation relationship and the student would be most willing to receive future marketing at this time. There is no need to use the emergency database, which the student envisions as being used judiciously only for emergencies and would not normally envision being used later for marketing. Using an emergency database for marketing risks destroying students' trust in the school's discretion over their contact information and may turn potential donors into militant non-donors. Relying on an opt-out check box is very questionable legal justification and, even if perfectly legal, just very underhanded practice.


I have to agree with Alumnus. While I am not associated with a particular organization that would utilize a database for this purpose, it seems to me that this is overkill.

A database of employees and their cells makes a bit more sense - but not students. Who maintains the security of the data? Who has access to the data? In my own opinion this information could be misused easily.

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