Letter to the Editor: Private lives open to peering eyes

Over the last five years Americans have seen their lives turned upside down by the selfish greed of bankers, politicians, and other powerful, moneyed, morally corrupt pillars of our society. At a time like this, when Americans are still sifting through the financial rubble from Hurricanes Bush, Wall Street, and Madoff, it seems evident that CHARACTER (let that read "academic integrity" for the student) should actually count for something as entrance into our higher institutions of learning. A university degree, after all, is what will allow these students to step up from high school (hi-jinks) into those above mentioned positions of power. It should be clear that the present set of graduates running our country lack integrity and concern for others. With the advent of social networking sites, universities have found a way to help determine academic and character potential by viewing the student's candid self-commentary rather than relying solely on a carefully fabricated set of letters/essays crafted to show the student applicant in glowing lights and a set of intellectual assessments (SATs, Grades, Equivalency, etc.). Yes, universities are turning to the students' own depiction of themselves on sites like Facebook and Myspace. Some say, more power to the Universities that do so. It is their job to seek out the most reliable information about applicants so the institution does not end up with a fraternity of date rapists, low grade cheaters, or equally bad, Political Science/Journalist/ Business graduates who have no moral foundation and cheat on a grand scale (Bankers, Oil companies, politicians, etc.).

In the article Private Lives (September 15, 2010), Ariana Masters condemns the use of social networking sites by Universities as sneaking a peak into the private lives of students. There is nothing private about the internet. So, welcome to the world of celebrity life and your 15 minutes of fame: anywhere other than your home is public. The paparazzi know this and so should you. Your house is the only place you have a right to privacy. When you leave it, you are in a public forum. It doesn't matter if you are in your car, the library, the store, or a park. The outside world is public and people will see you and all the funny or lame things you do there. Surprise; the Internet is also the outside world. When you post to a webpage, you are sending your information out to a million strangers and have no right to say that it's private just because you don't like it that one of those strangers made a negative and life altering judgment about you.

The problem is two-fold. 1) The computer is in your bedroom, you think it's private and anonymous, but it is neither of those. 2) People do not like to take responsibility for what they do in life. Okay, you get drunk and stupid. If you don't want to take responsibility for it, then don't drive, don't pass out at somebody else's house or on the street, and don't post it on the Internet. Anybody stupid enough to put harmful information about themselves on the internet, deserves what they get. The court system has convicted dozens of DUI idiots who asked for clemency but posted pictures of themselves drinking and being stupid days before their court date.

American Universities have lost much of their respect in the last 10 years because of the massive expense to gain a degree, how little a degree gain for a grad, and a sense that graduates don't have enough real world experience. Educators saw a need to change their methodology to achieve better results, accepting more students on their ability to control themselves as well as basing acceptance on their grades. It's a good choice and it is about time. Hopefully, this will spur our future leaders to act responsibly for themselves and for everyone involved leading to fewer cases of political graft, corruption, unethical CEO/CFO behavior, and more honest reporting about the "left" and the "right", etc.