Get with the program, universities

It is ironic that in the middle of the information age, in the first two years of the 21st century and a brand new millennium that officials at Nevada's institutions cannot operate a simple data base.

Students and alumni are asking why they have to be left off all of the university's and college's lists just because they don't want their names and addresses given to credit-card companies.

It has always been the policy of the University and Community College System of Nevada to allow students to opt off the directories used for the institution's mailing lists.

At their March 6 meeting, University Regents voted to give the policy better play in the catalog and send a letter to students explaining how it works.

The policy gives the student two choices -- on the list or off the list.

When the suggestion was made to give students a choice about what they want their names used for, it was shot down as too difficult for administrators and the system's computers, according to Juanita Fain, UNLV vice president for administration.

In addition, according to Fred Albrecht, director of the UNLV alumni association, those lists aren't sold to a major credit card company by the foundation. The credit card company gets them free and the foundation gets a cut when someone orders a credit card.

A data base is a computer program used to keep track of lists. The Department of Motor Vehicles uses a data base to make sure motorists get their registration renewal forms in the mail. The IRS uses a data base to keep track of taxpayers.

Carson City residents can find out how long anyone in the city has owned a piece of property using a data base connected to the city's Web site.

It is a tool used by church secretaries to keep track of the congregation.

The universities have to maintain their data bases, putting in new information every time a student signs up. They have to update that information when there is a change of address or student status.

So, why can't the people in charge of the data base add an extra window or box that allows a student to be left off the list given to credit card companies, or to opt out of receiving mailers from the university, or for that matter eliminating the student's name from the list altogether.

They can. But instead of fulfilling the promise of the information age by offering solutions, they offer excuses.


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