Social security number usage may cease

Kandace Sebastian

Thirty years of identifying students on campus by their social security numbers may come to an end during summer 2004.

In January, a social security protection committee was comprised to develop a plan to uniquely identify students on campus without using their social security numbers.

Monday, the committee sent a recommendation for the plan to Richard Kirchmeyer, vice president of Information Technology.

The committee recommended that Western start devising computer-generated numbers in spring 2004. Those numbers would be implemented during summer 2004.

Kirchmeyer will present the recommendations to the administrative council as early as next Monday.

“It decreases the possibility of identity theft of students. Now they have a pseudo identity,” Kirchmeyer said. “If a hacker got a hold of it, it wouldn’t mean anything to them.”

The idea of creating an alternative system was brought to the administration’s attention after identity theft and hacking became more prevalent across the country.

Although no specific instances of such theft have appeared on Western’s campus, social security numbers are given out by students.

“Personal identity theft is growing nationally and regionally,” said Gordon Johnson, chair of the committee and director of Administrative Computing. “We are responding and being sensitive to the general concerns of the country and personal information.”

Although social security numbers will still be used to give to the federal government and for tax use, Western will have different student identification numbers for students.

Social security numbers used on university records, such as transcripts, and are requested by professors and staff whenever personal access is needed.

Reach Kandace Sebastian at [email protected]