Letter to Campus Against Bradford

Dear Sir/Madam:

We are writing to you today as representatives of the student body in the hope that you will address the very grave concerns we have regarding the use of the program Bradford Persistence Agent on campus.

The purpose of the program is ostensibly to ensure that everyone has up-to-date antivirus software and complies with security protocols and the College’s Terms of Use. These are perfectly reasonable concerns and the College is absolutely right in its efforts to ensure that these requirements are met.

However, instead of improving network efficiency and security for the benefit of the students, the Bradford Persistent Agent has made it more difficult for us to use our computers and access the campus network, and, by virtue of these difficulties, is interfering with our academic activities on campus.

There are a number of ways that the Bradford program presents a problem to students trying to complete coursework on their computers. For one, we are often left with no Internet access and with no information as to how to rectify the problem. Many students have reported that they need to re-install the program multiple times just to get it to work. Updating the definitions of the antivirus software does not always work, and the Internet can apparently go out at any time. Students should not have to spend hours trying to fix their Internet or going to the Help Desk twice a week just so they can access their course documents on Blackboard.

Perhaps the most widespread problem is that of speed. Many students, even those who have bought new lap tops in the last year, are reporting that their computers have slowed down significantly since installing Bradford. This makes working and studying much more tedious.
One of the main reasons that the Bradford client has met with so much student disapproval is that we had no input in its implementation. In the past, our representatives in the SGA and the Board of Trustees have had a lot of say in campus affairs and development, and the willingness of College officials to listen to our concerns has always been appreciated.

Our final concern is one of privacy. Bradford’s web site advertises that this version “expands agent scanning and ongoing monitoring capabilities to include detecting process activity, file presence/status, and wireless drivers with known vulnerabilities,” boasting that “these powerful assessment functions allow IT personnel to efficiently address computers running prohibited or unlicensed applications while also searching for specific files.” In short, version 4 isn’t just for regulating Internet use; it allows administrators access to our personal files. Needless to say, this makes us rather uncomfortable, considering the volume of critical private information both stored on our computers and exchanged on the Internet. We have been vaguely assured that the College did not purchase all of the features in the package, but this does not mean that these features cannot be added or activated in the future without our knowledge. Even if the Bradford program is not currently being utilized to scan our files or record our online activity, we feel we have a responsibility to future students at this College to ensure that their privacy is not compromised by our lack of action.

If indeed there needs to be a change of network policy or infrastructure, and last year’s practices were insufficient, that is fine; however, we believe this is not the way to go about rectifying those problems. We believe an alternative, such as a dissolvable agent, should be found, with the cooperation of the students.

We are asking you to support us and to remove the Bradford Persistent Agent from our computers and the campus network. We have faith that through cooperation and conversation we can resolve this issue and ensure we all have another excellent year at St. Mary’s.

Sincerely,
Ernest Rotili, Kyle McGrath and Dietrich Epp Schmidt on behalf of SMCM Students Against Bradford Persistent Agent

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