In a Nov. 11 email to the student body, the Office of Marketing and Communications announced that they will be working with hometown media outlets to learn about and share various student achievements. The email mentioned that there is an “opt-out” option, asking students to specify if they did not want the Col- lege to send out their information.
Melissa Anderson, chief commu- nications and marketing officer, clari- fied the current policy, saying, “When we send hometowners out recog- nizing students who have made the Dean’s List or performed in a play or concert or graduated, these achieve- ments are mentioned in local papers and can be shared on social media by the individual student.”
The College has modified the policy to allow for students to update their consent. Previously, students either consented or refused during ARCH, and they were not asked again throughout the rest of their four years.
“Each [summer] during ARCH the College asks all incoming students to complete a public information questionnaire that allows you to choose whether you consent or decline to having your achievements promoted in hometown papers,” Anderson informed. “We recently upgraded our system for sending these hometowners and wanted to do a double check on those forms from ARCH to make sure folks had a chance to opt out of hometown publicity if they had already consented to having their accomplishments shared with hometown papers. A lot hap- pens after the time a student shows up on campus for ARCH.”
However, students argue that an opt-in policy would better resolve any unnecessary pressure. Kaitlyn Khayat ’20 was disappointed to read the email, saying, “When I initially read the email, I was reflecting on my friend’s comment about high performance anxiety. If I am being honest with myself and others, I have probably been experiencing this phenomenon since freshman year of high school. In the past year and a half, I have been mentally, emotionally and physically feeling how exhausting this has been for the past seven years.” By having this opt-in policy, it helps to break the cycle of pressure that many students express they have felt in the past and into higher education.”
“As I prepare to transition out of college, I feel like I have been experiencing this more due to subconscious knowledge of people’s expectations for me in high school when I went to college,” Khayat continued. “I under- stand that we may have signed forms as first-year students, but I think that the College should have students sign this form every year because I have learned more about who I want to be, which does not align with most people’s expectations of me.”
Some students have taken issue with the opt-out policy as the con- stant flow of emails makes it difficult for them to keep up. Claire Montgomery ’20 explained, “The publication of students’ academic achievements should be opt-in, rather than opt-out. Students often do not have time to read the multiple emails they receive on a daily basis, and even though benign, students’ right to privacy shouldn’t be violated because an email wasn’t read in a timely matter.”
Montgomery added, “Moreover, I have no recollection of signing a document about the release of aca- demic accomplishments to relevant outlets during ARCH. While ARCH was four years ago, and I may have forgotten, the College should have made it clearer instead of burying it under the overwhelming couple of days that encompassed ARCH.”
In response to such student con- cerns, Anderson emphasized, “We never want to publicize achievements unless students affirmatively consent to our doing so. Our focus right now is to have some conversations with key offices on campus and interested students to identify ways we can provide students easy access to updates to their hometown publicity preferences on an ongoing basis through- out their time at Wooster. We also want to make sure students under- stand what we are asking consent for as part of the public information questionnaire on the New Student Checklist during ARCH.”