Goldsmiths SU stands against data surveillance and data collection, as manifested by the College's use of the SEAtS software.
Goldsmiths SU stands firmly against data surveillance and data collection, as manifested by the College's use of the SEAtS software.
The Student Engagement and Attendance System (SEAtS) is an attendance monitoring software that was procured by Goldsmiths, University of London to replace the registration systems that various departments use towards a more centralised system. SEAtS’s procurement is deeply problematic in many ways including the context under which it was purchased.
Firsty the Conservative government at the time was well underway in enacting the Hostile Environment set of policies which were designed to create an unlivable situation for migrants in the UK to encourage departure and dissuade further migration into the UK. These sets of policies have had a deadly and traumatising impact on migrants in the UK and software such as SEAtS play a part in creating it.
Goldsmiths claims that SEAtS was purchased to support the wellbeing of students, however it results in the exact opposite. Rather than a personal tutor or other member of staff reaching out to a student to provide pastoral support when their attendance drops off, SEAtS sends students an automatic message that their grades have dropped below a certain baseline. We have already seen the disastrous effects of the centralisation and ‘school hubs’ in responding to student concerns and this further centralisation provides.
We note also that Goldsmiths claimed to have carried out a full consultation with students and staff and refers to the Equality Impact Assessment and Data Protection Impact Assessments carried out in 2019. These statements published by the College on its website are made redundant by the fact that the no consultation or review was made until after the initial, costly procurement of SEAtS with no knowledge collected of how its implementation would be rolled out and what its consequences are. The Data Impact Assessment was released to
No Tech for Tyrants (NT4T) is a student-led, UK-based organisation working to sever the links between higher education, violent technology, and hostile immigration environments have constantly advised universities to prioritise migrant wellbeing and requested university administrators to implement ethical guidelines in regards to their corporate partnerships. Such ethical guidelines require transparency, of which we have received none from the College.
Based on the aforementioned, we welcome Goldsmiths UCU’s decision to pass a non-compliance motion against SEAtS. The decision to outsource students’ sensitive data collection to a third party company as unethical as SEAtS needs a united resistance and it is academic staff who are expected to facilitate its usage.
Revoking the implementation of the software.
Making transparent the insurmountable costs associated with purchasing SEAtS should be made a transparent matter to the Goldsmiths
College to share the Equality Impact Assessment and the Data Protection Impact Assessment done on SEAtS, as well as evidence of the consultation involving 800 students and staff members that the college claims took place regarding the use of SEAtS. If for any reason these assessments can not be shared, we demand that the college reopens the consultation board and conduct new impact assessments. We also ask that this will be done transparently and that the SU will be an active part of it.