David Bobart explains responds to the Baltimore Sun’s data encryption article

By David A. Chiodarol

Staff Writer

In a recent article in the Baltimore Sun, reporter Meredith Cohn mentioned a number of safeguards that the University of Baltimore has put in place to protect the identity of their students. The article, which was published on January 26th, stated that a database containing the per- sonal information of over a hundred and seventeen thousand students had not been encrypted, as explained an audit issued by the University System of Maryland. Without digging further into the meat of the matter, the Sun made it seem as though the school had acted in gross negligence, exposing the personal information of their students and leaving them at risk of identity theft.

Looking for answers, I was directed to David Bobart, the Chief Information Officer for the Office of Technology Services, who informed me that the situation was not nearly as dire as the Sun made it out to be. According to him, UB’s case was not special, and that every school within the USM was subject to such scrutiny by the state’s audit office.

“The University System of Maryland, jointly, with all the schools, develops security guidelines,” Bobart said, “and the Office of Legislative Audits (OLA) comes in every three years and they will audit all the schools against the guidelines that we developed.” Bobart said that, despite the bad rep audits receive among the general public, the audit gives the schools useful feedback on how to better manage their institutions, similar to how professors give feedback on a paper or workshop assignment.

Bobart mentioned that the pro- cess of encrypting the database documents had begun long before the audit was published, beginning in the Fall of 2016 and fully implemented last March. “In between us starting and finishing, they [OLA] arrived,” during which the univer- sity mentioned its ongoing efforts to them.

Despite this, and the fact that other schools are audited all the time, the findings were apparently too much for the Sun to ignore, prompting them to write the fear-mongering article. However, as Bobart mentioned, even without the safeguards in place, the chances of a student falling victim to identity theft because a database is unencrypted is slim.

“Think about it this way,” Bobart tells me, “if you have a computer in your house, and you have a spreadsheet on that computer with your date of birth and social security number on it, to get it someone would need to literally break into your house and steal it, pull the hard drive out, and use Excel to open it.” But in this case, Bobart says, you have safeguards to protect your data, such as keeping your computer in a safe place and protecting it with a password. The extra encryption methods were simply extra procedures and protocols that were put in place to strengthen

the school’s already rigorous security. While news organizations will often exploit their audience’s lack of understanding to push fear-mongering articles, it’s important to remember that the world of computing isn’t nearly as scary as you’d think. Computers aren’t magic, hackers aren’t wizards, and using basic common sense may be the best way to protect yourself from online threats. In the case of UB, students can rest assured that their data is safe, and that the school is always looking for ways to keep their information sealed.

“It was only a matter of time.”

By Olivia Dudley

Editor-in-Chief

Thirty five, forty one, nine. That’s the number of dead and wounded at the past nine mass shootings that have occurred up to the date of February 18th*, the day I am writing this. So who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Times like this make me happy that I do not have children. I do not have to worry about someone so filled with hate waltzing into their school and shooting them. How shameful is it that school shootings have become an actual concern parents experience in America now-a-days? How many beautiful, young people am I going to see flash up on the television screen, their images appearing as bright hope gleams in their eyes. The pictures of the massacred slide by as news stations show us these young hopeful people are no longer alive because bullets pierced their bodies and drained them of all they were.

I feel like there is nothing suf- ficient that I can do to help. I can chant along with the rest to enforce stricter gun laws. I can write letters to Congress. I can even donate to fundraising sites as well; but you will never, ever, catch me sending thoughts and prayers. At this point they are a disgrace and so immensely disrespectful, I just want to scream

“Do something!” at anyone who says such a thing.

Sometimes, I find myself won- dering if other people have a plan like I do. Having been blessed with an overactive and creative imagination, I have always been planning; specifically since 2007. Ten years old and being terrified of the face of Seung-Hui Cho’s blank stare on the television, listening to a NBC news anchor give updates of the Virginia Tech shooting. I remember seeing the faces of all the victims and asking my mom “Why did he hurt all those people?” A question that she could not answer; no one could answer it then. But I remember the paranoia beginning, my school started to run drills so we would know what to do if an active shooter ever came to our school.

Wherever I go, now, I observe the area and make a plan on how to stay safe if someone decides to open fire wherever. Admittedly, I am only prepared for a max of two enemies to escape from, but that is a lengthy tangent I would prefer not to go on

right now. The point I am trying to express is that I should not feel the intense need to make a plan in the first place. No one should need to go to school, work, or anywhere else with the concern of “What if today is the day?”

I personally do not see a true solu- tion other than creating stricter gun laws, which could prevent massacres from happening. Even with those restrictions in place, I am doubtful. The people that want to commit these heinous actions will find a way to perform them because, just as de- termined as we are to survive, they are determined to kill.

How can we allow the statistics to carry on growing? Why must we sit here, patiently waiting for the next incident, the next hopeful faces being memorialized on our television screens, the next generation of PTSD sufferers, and the next set of speeches? When can we find a solution so we can live our lives without worrying someone might burst in and kill us while our name will be- come nothing more than a statistic on a Wikipedia page? I don’t know, I don’t have the answers; it seems like no one else does either. Maybe someday I can stop going on rants about gun violence, racism, and sexual harassment; but, unfortunately, that day will not be anytime soon.

 

Just Listen: An open conversation about race

Students and professors come together to have an open and candid conversation about race

By Elia Franco

Contributor

I [once] drove all the way to Chicago just to avoid having to go through [being invasively] checked at the airport. It was just that much better, because honestly it wasn’t worth it for me—I also wanted to carry a bunch of stuff as well”, Mohammed Mahfouz, a UB student and volunteer of the panel ended his story as he and the rest of the crowd giggled.

We were holding this event, directed by Dr. Alfred Guy and several others, for the sake of discussing the effects of race on an individual. The idea was born in the heart of Dr. Guy, who one day invited me to his office to discuss the importance of having a racial discussion in which people could speak to each other with the purpose of understanding that their differences were not so different after all. After introducing me to the rest of the team, multiple meetings, having gone through various works that evaluated kinds of racial discussion, the sponsorship of the Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics, and many slices of pizza later, the event was finally organized to take place on February 12, 2018.

I was surprised to walk into a class- room filled with people—young and old, who had willingly come to take part in the conversation and to tell their own stories. The two hours as- signed for the event seemed to have flown by like seconds as many stories were shared among students.

Some students spoke of the con- cerns of raising an African American child into a society which so harshly judged African American individuals, others spoke of negative connotations regarding their religion and the way it connected to their social identity and others spoke of the struggles of being an immigrant or growing up in an immigrant household. In the end, many spoke about the hardships of simply trying to live their life freely and happily in a society that created many barriers and molds for them to fit into. Many of the comments brought about laughter, some brought about a moment of reflection, and some stories even brought about tears, but if I can say one thing, that would be that it was all honest, respectful and solemn.

It was a shared moment of sympathy and empathy during which the colors of our skins and the burdens they brought with them were acknowledged. It was a moment of sharing our insecurities, our nightmares and our realities. Finally, after it was all said and done we were only left with one thing: the beautiful brokenness of our humanity.

Homelessness in Baltimore

By Shae McCoy

Contributor

 

 

Homelessness is an issue that is often swept under the rug. It is Baltimore’s worst kept secret. I will even go beyond, to say that it America’s worst kept secret. It has become disgusting how we, as a society, disregard the homeless as if they are less human. The truth is that any of us could become homeless at any moment. One can hardly keep up with bills when living pay check to pay check. Having dead end jobs is a recipe for disaster especially when you have more than one mouth to feed.

According to the Baltimore Sun there are 38 affordable housing units available to every 100 impoverished families. 150,000 eviction notices are filed every year and chances for finding low income housing are getting slimmer and slimmer while 2,928 shelter beds are available to fewer than 15,000 homeless Baltimoreans. This means more than half of the homeless population is forced to be out on the street with no access to bedding, showers, or food. Even when the homeless are able to reach a shelter charges must be paid, belong- ings could be stolen, and the overall experience is an uncomfortable one.

Speaking with various Baltimor- eans who are homeless, I learned a few things.

•Homelessness doesn’t discriminate

•A lot of people who are homeless suffer from untreated mental illnesses and are usually thrown back on the streets after being seen at hospitals

•There are more homeless youth than usual

•A lot of homeless people who are here are not originally from here

•Homelessness is an eye sore to tourists so city officials try their best to hide the problem

In 2015, during the unrest in Bal- timore, I met a young male by the name of Marco. I was on my way to take pictures of the torched Rite Aid in my neighborhood when I saw Marco being carried out by the police. He was crying so loudly that it made me cringe. Once the police let him go I pulled him to the side to talk with him. He was being arrested because he had went in to the burnt down Rite Aid to retrieve food items. He only made out with a bag of Sour Patch Kids. He began to tell me his story of being homeless and how he got here. At first, he was very brief as I expected because he didn’t know me, but as I started to see him more he began revealing more of himself.

Marco was in his early 20’s and from Florida. He came up here after getting into trouble and found him- self without a home and employment. He informed me that the shelter he frequented charged three dollars a night. I wondered what kind of shelter would charge someone who had no money. Every time I saw him I gave him money, or anything helpful. That included phone calls to his mother, who had become sick. I started seeing him more often in my neighborhood and I knew his situation was worsening. Most of the homeless people in my neighborhood suffer from drug addiction or mental illness. Days, weeks, and months went by and Marco started to look worse than when we first met. That is when I learned he started to use drugs and getting into more trouble. One day, Marco had been stabbed where he was temporarily staying. I told him to stay away, but he couldn’t resist. After a while, Marco vanished.

This may be the story for many others, but how would we ever know. The city does a horrible job of keeping up with the homeless population. Just because they are impoverished does not mean they do not deserve to have good health, food, clothes on their back and a safe place to stay. I will take time to give credit to the organizations who do their best to help the homeless and the people who volunteer their time with them. At the end of the day we are all human. What’s inhumane is Baltimore’s horrible excuse for evicting the homeless from the only place they have to stay. From MLK to I-83 encampments are being cleared. Under the bridge on MLK is a fenced area where tents once occupied. The homeless still can be seen walking up and down the boulevard. Officials have offered a shelter program, but how long will it last before they’re abandoned again? This shelter will provide beds for up to 40 homeless men and women. If there is going to be a shelter program, then it needs to be a big enough program that more than half of the homeless population can benefit. There needs to be help for those who suffer from mental health issues because throwing them on the streets is a danger to their safety. We have a long way to go and we won’t get too far with this issue unless we realize that it is an issue and stop trying to hide it for the sake of tourists. Baltimore, I am definitely judging you.

 

Photo courtesy of Shae McCoy

A Whole Can of Worms

By: Kelsi Swenson

Contributor

The town hall was when most people found out. There had been a lot of rumors (some, as the Provost put at the SGA meeting on February 14th: “right impressions, but a lot of the time wrong impressions.”) but this was the first time the UB community heard definitively that the Counseling Center was closing. It’s unknown whether this change will be permanent, but for the next six months (the length of the contract signed by UB with INOVA, who also manages the staff’s employee assistance program) it’s a reality.

For El Schoepf, it’s a triple adjustment: personal, professional, and academic. Ms. Schoepf was the clinical extern at the Center, which meant she saw patients on an ongoing basis and took part in educational workshops.  “I thought that I was going to have this year of clinical experience, two full semesters and I have one now…whether it’s switching my concentration or finding a new internship site, it is pushing my graduation date back by one semester. I try to look at it as an opportunity.”

Under the new INOVA system, students still have that face-to-face option, and five sessions per issue are covered by student service fees—INOVA also extends this coverage to family members and the service can be accessed 24/7. You call, and within 48 hours receive a referral to one of the partnered mental health sites to be seen by a licensed counselor. Dr. Katy Shaffer, Assistant Professor in the Master’s in Applied Psychology/Counseling program illuminated some of the complications of that: “There’s a lot of stigma around seeking help… Having a counselor that you trust or a friend that you trust or a staff member that you trust walk you over and say, ‘Look, I trust these people, and it’s gonna be helpful to you,’ is something you can’t do when you don’t have a Counseling Center.” Across departments, many shared stories of walking a vulnerable student to the Counseling Center for help.

The need for ongoing therapy (5+ sessions) is determined at intake through INOVA. The provider who is best suited to the client (whether the student has insurance or requires sliding scale fees) is then matched with them. “But the problem is a lot of students (people, human beings) don’t want anyone else to know they’re seeking therapy…if you’re on your parent’s insurance, they’ll send your parents a bill that says, ‘X for Licensed Psychology Provider.’ [Insurance companies aren’t] bound in the same ways that you think of like a doctor or a psychologist. I’m not saying they don’t have their own internal rules, but it doesn’t apply in the same way,” Dr. Shaffer explains.

Dr. Tiffaney Parkman, director of the Health and Human Services Program here at UB, gives her perspective: “I was a graduate student at Virginia Tech when the shooting happened…The counseling center staff [at Virginia Tech] were there to deploy. They were able to lead the charge and inform the people who were helping… I have not been at a school or an academic institution where they’ve outsourced counseling services.” In UB’s case, the first responders to such an event would be the campus police (although Provost Smith has said that a licensed clinician through INOVA could be on campus within an hour). Ms. Schoepf echoed the professor’s unease: “It requires a very specific kind of training to assess someone for their level of suicidality or homicidality and the average person is not very good at doing that. I was not good at doing that before I started this program at UB… police are trained in very different way to assess different things and sometimes come to a different solution or different decision regarding the problem. So in calling the police, I can see a lot of, a lot of potential problems in situations being misinterpreted.”

How did we get here? The decision-making process at UB involves senior management (the President; the Vice President; the Provost; and the CFO) and frequently the academic division Deans. In mid-November, a Shared Services Committee comprised of administrators and faculty was convened in order to brainstorm ideas for realignment—one of those sub-groups (or work groups) was tasked with problem-solving the Counseling Center. Shelia Burkhalter, Vice President for Student Affairs at UB, was part of that group. She describes the Center as something, “We were told to look at…from all angles. How do we serve a broader cross-section of students? How do manage risk? How do we maximize our resources?” Several options were drawn up (at least two of which did not involve moving counseling services off-campus) and a summary report was submitted which Ms. Burkhalter described as “a working document.” In between then and now, how—exactly—INOVA got chosen to be implemented as a stand-alone service remains unclear.

At the SGA meeting on February 14th, Provost Smith shed some light on the circumstances of Dr. Turner and Dr. Waters leaving: “It’s an interesting dilemma, when you are looking at options to realign an organization to improve efficiency and effectiveness. You want to bring people into the conversation, and then you fear that because by bringing them into the conversation they will react out of fear and uncertainty. We’ve accepted, obviously, their resignation, and had to make decision on what was next.” Dr. Parkman says, “They knew our students and our population—they understood what was happening. They understood where our students were coming from and the types of issues they faced. And so they were an integral part of the community.”

Ms. Schoepf recalls: “I got a call from Dr. Waters a week before [I was set to start back] and she told me there were some changes occurring within the University that were potentially going to affect the Center. So she wanted the three of us—me, herself, and Dr. Turner—to all meet and talk…[They] had gone to a meeting that (I have not been at, so I can’t really speak for exactly what went on)…but they both had the impression that the Counseling Center would be closing or vastly reconfiguring its services so that their jobs would cease to exist in the near future…Since there weren’t any dates given by the higher administration…I said that I absolutely understood their situation and it made sense for them all to start pursuing employment options elsewhere.” What—exactly—was said in that meeting remains unknown.

She also brings forth what a lot of students are feeling. “[Many have] voiced concerns about feeling unheard by the administration and I think it’s things like this really speak to that.” Dr. Parkman agrees: “I don’t think that there has been a lot of transparency.”

Letter From the Editor: March Issue 2018

I often find myself being driven insane by those around me. But however insane I am being driven I maintain my calm, cool, and collected balance, simply because I do not want to cross my own line.

It is my belief that everyone has a line, and no matter how close they may teeter on that line, they should not cross it. Practicing self control is one of the most im- portant things that makes us human. When I see stories about people crossing their line I disband them, anyone who crosses that rageful line does not deserve the honor of being called a human.

Humans can be angry and sad and feel those negative feelings, it is not my intention to discount those feelings, but you do not take them out on someone that does not deserve it. The moment you choose to lash out with those feelings of primitive rage you have lost what it means to be human.

I cannot count how many times people around me have said “I’ve completely lost faith in humanity.” And I would like to kindly request that those individuals stop being so negative, you are not helping fix humanity by doubting it so much. We made it this far so we can make it farther.

As we enter into this new month, we are experiencing some changes both within our school and, on a much larger scale, in the country. People have reached a point where changes must happen, even if it does cause frustration within some people. We fell behind over the past couple of years, socially speaking, but I truly believe this is the year where we will start seeing positive change. So many people coming together to march in protest for change is proof of that. So stand together, stop closeting your complaints, and stand up for what you believe in. Stand up for a better world.

Enthusiastically Yours,

Olivia Dudley