“Colleges are Turning Students’ Phones into Surveillance Machines, Tracking the Locations of Hundreds of Thousands”, an article written by Drew Harwell was published to describe the injustices associated with institutions allowing the tracking of students through the use of their personal cell phones. While the institutions defend this by noting that monitoring increases attendance and allows for the detection of students who might have mental health issues, the overall concept of tracking students is unfair. This demonstrates the lack of trust the institution has with their students, and is a step backwards when allowing college students to behave like adults. Gan, the protagonist in the short story “Bloodchild”, by Octavia Butler, faces similar injustices to the college students. The relationships and different levels of trust between the characters in the story and between the administrators and students in the article directly contribute to the risks and rewards associated with academic partnership.
Harwells’s article, “Colleges are Turning Students’ Phones into Surveillance Machines, Tracking the Locations of Hundreds of Thousands”, describes the injustices of forcing students to use the “SpotterEDU” app, which tracks students locations and automatically takes attendance in the student’s classes. The article explains that the app has multiple purposes, but is required for the student’s attendance which directly influences their grade. It notifies professors when a student misses class or comes in late. Most students believe this is an invasion of trust and privacy, and that the only side benefiting from the app is the school. The app is convenient for professors and administrators, but offers no gain for the students. This is happening on a college campus, where adults are tracking other adults. These actions could also potentially affect the student’s independence and freedom in the real world. If they feel they are being watched, less students will want to venture out and pursue their own interests. The relationship between the students and administration shows a lack of trust in the students. If they trusted them, they would allow them to attend classes on their own time. Tami Chievous, an athletic director at the university of Missouri, explains, “Students today have so many distractions…We have to make sure they’re doing the right thing” (Harwell). The administration is not treating them like adults and is enforcing their power onto the students. The lack of trust shown in the article can help in the discussion of the risks and rewards of academic partnership. This is also shown by the administrators not showing the full truth. Harwell states that students do not know what the bluetooth beacons that transmit signals from the app look like. They would not provide a photograph for the article so they could keep them hidden. This is another demonstration of the University’s lack of trust for their students.
Octavia Butler, author of “Bloodchild”, also indirectly discusses risks and rewards of academic partnership. Like Harwell’s article, the characters in “Bloodchild” also demonstrate fluctuating levels of trust. Gan is the youngest child, born with the purpose to serve T’Gatoi as a N’Tlic. T’Gatoi is an important and respected political figure who was always a family friend to Gan’s family. Gan grew up knowing and trusting T’Gatoi, and knew that one day he would have to carry her offspring. This all changed when he finally understood what this would entail. He witnessed a gruesome hatching of eggs and later was told a story about a birth gone even worse. These events drastically change how Gan looks at his future. He realizes he will be forced to go through an excruciating amount of pain and danger and there is nothing he can do about it. He was born into this life and he is now forced to give up his body for the Tlic’s benefit. The relationship he has with T’Gatoi was evaluated and he saw the lack of trust between them. Gan had originally put all of his trust in T’Gatoi but later realizes the power T’Gatoi has. He was not exposed to the realities of the birthing process and it was kept hidden from him. In addition, he realizes the unequal relationship between the Terran and the Tlic and eventually advocates for a change. He realized the injustices between the Terran and Tlic relationship, and had ultimatums for T’Gatoi. They were demands to make the relationship fair and equal. These demands were very reasonable and necessary.
Gan’s reflective process of learning described prior can easily be compared to that of college students. A lack of trust between students and administration in universities is sometimes relevant. Like Gan, students might feel that they are not given the full truth about their academics. For example, I have a class where it is unclear what percent of our grade our essays and exams account for. Scenarios like this can be a risk for students as they prepare for their classes and strive to achieve good grades. There can also be a lack of trust issue when professors have strict attendance policies in place. It is understandable to enforce attendance, however occasionally it is impossible to attend class. Often, students will go to class when they are sick or are in a bad mental state because of attendance policies. Attending class while contagious puts a huge risk on the professors and other students, especially in an environment that we are currently in with the coronavirus. And while most Geneseo professors are lenient about attendance, there are still the occasional professors that will not allow missed classes or labs. Harwell’s article stands by the same theory, just to a higher level of extent. These inequalities should be fixed as Gan corrected them, by advocating for fair and equal relationships. This would benefit the administrators because students are more willing to listen to them if they are being treated fairly. It would also benefit students because they would not feel power over them, and might be more likely to address their issues.
Gan’s learning process is very similar to college students and they both are forced to develop certain levels of trust. The students Harwell’s article describes unhealthy trust levels between students and administration. These unhealthy relationships are ultimately negative for the students, but students can gain from Gan’s reflective processes. Realizing situations and relationships are unfair and advocating for a change is beneficial for both parties.