Com425 Final Story

Pullman, WASH. Many students at Washington State University may not remember signing forms promising fair conduct on the Internet when they registered but they will still be held accountable for any illegal conduct.

“When you sign your student agreement, you make certain claims about how you’re going to act on university Internet but there’s a certain gray area,” said Jeff Snell, an information technology administrator at WSU.

“Signing those forms states that you will not doing anything illegal and will use the tools provided appropriately.”

One of the main issues surrounding university provided Internet access is the prevalence of file-sharing sites and the propensity of college students to use them for illegal gains and non-academic purposes.

Students downloading copyrighted media such as movies or games without purchasing them not only put themselves at risk for serious lawsuits but also the university.

“The university can potentially be held liable for illegal actions of students online and that’s why we need to enforce the rules,” said Deborah Baker, associate director at WSU’s Office of Student Standards and Accountability.
Snell said that one of the challenges of his job is trying to differentiate between what’s legal and illegal when it comes to downloading and file sharing on the university network.

“They have the idea that if they start blocking sites, they’re going to have to keep blocking every new one that pops up and becomes and issue with a lawsuit,” said Snell.

“I use some file sharing sites for legitimate things so its tough to determine the validity when these sites appear on the network and the university would not want to take away tools from their educators or their students.”
According to WSU Services New Media and Communication Director Casey Hanson, it is the responsibility and in the best interest of all WSU faculty, staff and students to comply with University policies and procedures regarding computer and network usage.

“If a student is caught illegally downloading, IT administrators can suspend student network usage on any computer until they review and comply with federal laws and university policies,” said Hanson.

“Repeat offenders will be forced to report to the student conduct officials and go through their program of accountability.”
Baker said she typically does not see many repeat offenders and when she does, they learn the lesson after complying with her office’s online accountability program.

“We’ll have them attend a mandatory course and write a research paper about why the laws are there and prompt them to educate themselves on why things are the way they are,” said Baker.

“When I first started working here in 2010, they were a lot more repeat offenders than there is now so I think we’ve cracked down on it.”

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), “from 2004 through 2009 alone, approximately 30 billion songs were illegally downloaded on file-sharing networks according.”

The RIAA’s website states that in the decade since peer-to-peer (p2p) file-sharing site Napster emerged in 1999, music sales in the U.S. have dropped 47 percent, from $14.6 billion to $7.7 billion.

These numbers only relate to a small scope of the problem and do not reflect the millions of dollars large corporations such as the RIAA are losing annually when people obtain movies, television shows, and games through illegal means.

File sharing sites can be used to share and download any multi-media content.

Senior Director of Networking and Chief Information Security Officer Thomas Ambrosi said that with any non-academic computer use, there is a greater risk for malware infection on the network, often times from the sharing of files.

“Like many universities, WSU does have instances that occur and takes them very seriously,” said Ambrosi.

Unfortunately, Ambrosi said that Informative Services would not discuss past or on-going investigations relating to legal matters surrounding illegal downloading.

Neil Roberts, a junior at WSU, thinks that the university’s policies revolving around what students are doing on the Internet are lenient.

“As far as I know, the school does not particularly care too much about it,” said Roberts.

“I’ve received a warning in my Zzusis account at least once since I’ve been here but I have no idea what it was for and nothing happened.”

Snell thinks the public will only know of instances regarding illegal downloading if large-scale lawsuits are filed.

“How big of an issue it is and whether or not its going to get WSU in the media by determining exposure is a common factor for large-scale organizations in situations like this,” said Snell.

“Is this all of a sudden going to blow up and appear on the front page of the New York Times that WSU is allowing all these students to download copyrighted materials?”

Sources:

Jeff Snell- WSU Information Technology Administrator
(509) 335-4257
snell@wsu.edu

Deborah Baker- Associate Director at WSU Student Conduct
(509) 335-8790
bakerd@wsu.edu

Casey Hanson- Communications Director at WSU Services
(509) 335-8444
casey.hanson@wsu.edu

Thomas Ambrosi- Senior Director of Networking and CISO
(509) 335-1642
tambrosi@wsu.edu

Neil Roberts- WSU Student
(425) 791-1509
neil.v.roberts@wsu.edu

Attached Records Request:
http://www.splc.org/legalassistance/foiletter_view.asp?fname=Zack&midname=M&lname=Menchel&address=710%20SE%20Chinook%20Dr.Pullman%2C%20WA%2099163&phone=425-417-5820&state=49&pname=Thomas%20Ambrosi&sal=Mr.%20Ambrosi&aoff=WSU%20Office%20of%20Student%20Standards%20and%20Accountability&agencyadd=PO%20BOX%20641062%20Lighty%20260%20&agencyadd2=Pullman%2C%20WA%2099162-1052&amount=0.00&descript=records%20of%20Washington%20State%20University%20students%20who%20have%20been%20caught%20downloading%20illegally%2C%20sharing%20files%2C%20and%20other%20Internet%20crimes.

December 10, 2013
Thomas Ambrosi
WSU Office of Student Standards and Accountability
PO BOX 641062 Lighty 260
Pullman, WA 99162-1052

Dear Mr. Ambrosi ,

Pursuant to the state open records law, Wash. Rev. Code Secs. 42.56.001 to 42.56.904 , I write to request access to and a copy of records of Washington State University students who have been caught downloading illegally, sharing files, and other Internet crimes. . If your agency does not maintain these public records, please let me know who does and include the proper custodian’s name and address.
I agree to pay any reasonable copying and postage fees of not more than $0.00. If the cost would be greater than this amount, please notify me. Please provide a receipt indicating the charges for each document.

As provided by the open records law, I will expect your response within five (5) business days. See Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 42.56.520.
If you choose to deny this request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely. Also, please provide all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material.

Please be advised that I am prepared to pursue whatever legal remedy necessary to obtain access to the requested records. I would note that violation of the open records law can result in a fine � payable to me � of up to $100 for each day that I am denied access. Litigation costs, including reasonable attorney fees, may also be awarded. See Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 42.56.550(4).
Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,

Zack M Menchel
710 SE Chinook Dr.
Pullman, WA 99163

425-417-5820

Com 425 Final Story Draft and Public Records Request

Com 425 Final Story- Rough Draft

Although many students at Washington State University may not remember signing forms stating fair conduct on the Internet when they registered but that does not mean they will not be held accountable for any illegal conduct.

One of the main issues surrounding university provided Internet access is the prevalence of file-sharing sites and the propensity of college students to use them for illegal gains and non-academic purposes.

Students downloading copyrighted media such as movies or games without purchasing them not only put themselves at risk for serious lawsuits but also the university.

“The university can potentially be held liable for illegal actions of students online and that’s why we need to enforce the rules,” said Deborah Baker, associate director at WSU’s Office of Student Standards and Accountability.

Jeff Snell, an information technology administrator at WSU said that one of the challenges of his job is trying to differentiate between what’s legal and illegal when it comes to downloading and file sharing on the university network.

“I think they have the idea that if they start blocking sites, they’re going to have to keep blocking every new one that pops up and becomes and issue with a lawsuit,” said Snell.

“I for one use some file sharing sites for legitimate things so its tough to determine the validity when these sites appear on the network and the university would not want to take away tools from their educators or their students.”

According to WSU Services Communication Director Casey Hanson, it is the responsibility and in the best interest of all WSU faculty, staff and students to comply with University policies and procedures regarding computer and network usage.

“If a student is caught illegally downloading, IT administrators can suspend student network usage on any computer until they review and comply with federal laws and university policies,” said Hanson.

“Repeat offenders will be forced to report to the student conduct officials and go through their program of accountability.”

Baker said she typically does not see many repeat offenders and when she does, they learn the lesson after complying with her office’s online accountability program.

“We’ll have them attend a mandatory course and write a research paper about why the laws are there prompting them to educate themselves on why things are the way they are,” said Baker.

“When I first started working here in 2010, they were a lot more repeat offenders than there is now so I think we’ve cracked down on it.”

Sources:

Jeff Snell- WSU Information Technology Administrator
Deborah Baker- Associate Director at WSU Student Conduct
Casey Hanson- Communications Director at WSU Services

Public Records Request

Send to:

WSU Office of Student Standards and Accountability
PO BOX 641062
Lighty 260, Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99162-1052
standards@wsu.edu

To whom it may concern,

My name is Zack Menchel and I am a student reporter in Benjamin Shors’ Com 425: Public Affairs Journalism class at Washington State University.

I am working on a story regarding WSU’s online policies, the scope of Internet crimes such as illegal file sharing and downloading on their network, and how these issues are dealt with.

I am writing your office today in order to formally request public records featuring statistics correlating to the number of incidents of illegal file sharing the university has experienced on their network over the last decade.

Please email the documents to zack.menchel@email.wsu.edu or forward them to the address on the front of this envelope.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration and I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,
Zack Menchel
Murrow College of Communication ‘14

Final Project Pitch

For my final project, I will seek to do a bit of investigative journalism to explore ethical issues surrounding fair Internet usage by students at universities (specifically WSU) and the various gray areas and problems school authorities have with enforcing their own policies. Illegal downloading, file-sharing, pornography, and other potential unlawful activity happening on the college’s network bandwidth are subtopics that will be useful as I delve into this topic. We already know the potential issues so I specifically want to inform on how the university deals with these issues and what causes them to take action. In an age where practically everyone is connecting to the Internet on a daily basis and with us living and working at such a large university, I want to know how WSU deals with Internet crimes while students are operating under university owned computers and Internet access. I may need to narrow the scope and focus of this topic because Internet crimes can include a variety of things. I may run into problems with university officials not knowing of or not willing to speak about what exactly WSU does with offenders of their policy. Are the policies truly enforced or are they merely “scarecrows” meant to dissuade and steer away the majority of the student body away from committing Internet faux-pas? What has been done? What is being done?

Jeff Snell:

Com 425 Trend Story (Technology Beat): New “Search It” database at WSU Libraries coming soon

Outline:
-Introduction to trend
-Search It Nutgraph/Info
-Orbit Cascade Alliance
-General Consensus

Pullman, Wash. Washington State University students may find researching in the library a little less daunting when they boot up the computers in Holland and Terrell Libraries in January.

Over winter break, the school will be implementing “Search It”, an innovative new database tailored to the evolving needs of today’s college students.

Search It features a simplified, streamlined search box function that will in theory allow students to find what they’re looking for faster and grant them better and more plentiful results.

“Think of it as a way to collect resources that used to be separated from each other so that students can get one big bucket full of results quickly instead of having to look in a bunch of different places,” said web services librarian Ray Henry.

Corresponding with the adaptation of the new search interface, the WSU library system will also officially join the Orbis Cascade Alliance, a collection of 37 Pacific Northwest institutions for higher learning.

The main purpose of Orbis Cascade Alliance is the sharing of educational materials between each university, college, and community college that comprises the group, a growing trend within academic institutions.

Search It serves as the network that will neatly tie millions of new materials together for the participating schools.

According to Henry, six universities have already begun using Search It with rave reviews.

“The general consensus is that the program has been as good as advertised,” said Henry.

“It was rocky at first as all new technology is but as far as I know students are finding resources as available, and information is being transported between libraries.”

Beth Blakesley, the Associate Dean of Libraries at WSU, said she feels the project will be a big hit with students after receiving complaints regarding the complexities and unreliability of the library’s previous search technology.

“A lot of clicking and entering of key terms students currently have to do in terms of the article will now be more condensed and user-friendly,” said Blakesley.

“It seems to work better than our previous technologies because results will be more relevant and materials will be easier to get a hold of.”

Another advantage Search It offers over the previous Griffin technology is the ability for web administrators to more easily update and troubleshoot within the technology.

“The new cloud-based system will be more technically sound and any new developments in the technology will be brought to surface faster than before,” said Alex Merrill, digital initiatives librarian.

Victor Vargas, a library staff assistant said he is grateful for the changes being made because he always found the old system unnecessarily complicated.

“I’ve seen Search It in action at Western Washington University and I know its going to provide a welcome boost to the student experiences with research here at the library,” said Vargas.

Librarians will be on hand to guide students through operating Search It if necessary but Blakesley’s hope and intuition is that the program is self-explanatory and doesn’t cause students any headaches.

“Our librarians are going to make sure they’re properly supporting students through this change but for the most part we feel students will make a clean transition,” said Blakesley.

Students can expect to take advantage of the new library technology on the first day of spring semester.

Sources:

-Beth Blakesley
beth.blakesley@wsu.edu

-Ray Henry
ray.henry@wsu.edu

-Victor Vargas
509-431-4217

-Alex Merrill
merilla@wsu.edu

Trend Pitch (Technology Beat)

Story Pitch Outline: WSU Libraries changing to shared system for online holdings searches, borrowing, more access

Two-Sentence Explanation:

Washington State University Libraries soon will use a single search box to find journals, books and digitized collections. Users will see other improvements, too, including access to some 9 million titles and 26 million resources from 36 other higher education institutions.

Evidence:

http://news.wsu.edu/2013/10/16/wsu-libraries-changing-to-shared-system-for-online-holdings-searches-borrowing-more-
access/#.Umox_pTwLnM

http://orbiscascade.org/index/index

Why Now:
Change will be in effect this year.

Interviews:
Beth Blakesley, WSU Libraries, 509-335-6134, beth.blakesley@wsu.edu

Nella Letizia, public relations/communication coordinator senior, WSU Libraries, 509-335-6744, letizia@wsu.edu

500 words, news story.

Crime Story (Technology Beat): Surveillance Cameras on Adams Mall

Outline:

-Background information and goals of SPI/SCI initiatives
-Explain why Adams Mall was selected
-SCI significance in high-profile David Warner case
-Expert opinion, the future of SCI, etc.

Criminals Caught On Camera: WSU surveillance on Adams Mall has been effective
By: Zack Menchel

Pullman, Wash When it comes to catching criminals, law enforcement officials know that a picture really can be worth a thousand words.

At least that’s the message being conveyed at Washington State University with the implementation of surveillance cameras on Adams Mall in February of last year.

The project, known as the Safety Camera Initiative took shape in the fall of 2011 with the Pullman Police Department’s acceptance of a $300,000 grant from the Smart Policing Initiative, a program that intends to provide police officers with the best new tools and information to aid them in apprehending criminals.

“We were initially a bit skeptical that we’d even receive the grant because we really don’t have that big of a crime problem in comparison to other cities,” said Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins.

“I think we met their criteria by having a community that’s close to a major university as well as having security cameras to monitor crime in a deemed hot spot area.”

According to Jenkins, public meetings were held before the implementation of the project in order to get community input on policy because the police were sensitive to privacy concerns that the public might have.

Located on the northeast hill, also known as College Hill or “Greek row”, Adams Mall is the epicenter of nearly all violent crime and public disorder calls in the city of Pullman.

According to the Smart Policing Initiative website, the three main focuses of the SCI are to “deter individuals from engaging in criminal behavior in the target area, increase investigation of previously unreported crimes, and increase police case clearance rates.”

“The premise behind is that we’re wondering if through the aid of another set of eyes, so to speak, we could possibly deter crime in the area altogether,” said Pullman Police administrative assistant Elysia Spencer, a grant manager for the project.

“At the very least, we seek to facilitate higher clearance, or arrest rates if crimes do persist in the area.”

WSU criminal justice professor Dr. David A. Makin originally volunteered his students to monitor the cameras back in 2011 but he altered the program this year to offer internship credit.

“I have about 12 students who have been specially selected and trained by Pullman P.D. and myself on how to use the cameras, write reports, and engage in spatial learning,” said Makin.

He said students can monitor the cameras at virtually any time but the typical hours range from 10 p.m.- 2 a.m.

Having students monitor the daily activity was not the original plan but Makin’s idea has provided a great deal of help to police officers who already struggle multi-task all throughout the day.

“The security cameras on Adams Mall have paid dividends and been a service to the university as well as the surrounding community in just a short time,” said senior criminal justice major Anthony Kuntz.

“I only wish I would have been able to participate in the program this year because I’ve heard good things from some of my classmates about their experience with it.”

The SCI played a significant role in both the rounding up of witnesses, as well as the eventual apprehension of suspects in the brutal beating of WSU professor David Warner last spring.

In fact, it was one of Makin’s students who first discovered the crime taking place on camera.

When witnesses failed to come forward, archive footage taken by the cameras at Adams Mall were put to the test.

“There is a unique situation when the police have to deal with a university population,” said Spencer.

“Sometimes there is often a code of silence in that once the blue lights flash and the cops show up, nobody saw anything.”

When it became apparent that the Adams Mall cameras had also captured the primary suspects in the Warner case, an anonymous tip about the suspects from the west side of the state became the key piece of evidence to crack the case.

Both Jenkins and Spencer attribute social media as well as local and regional news coverage that led to that tip and the eventual capture of the individuals responsible for the assault.

“We initially had no suspects in the case, just some descriptions,” said Jenkins.

“I think it’s ultimately because we had some relatively good video of the suspects in that case that made media outlets willing to pay more attention to the story.”

“The videos were most definitely crucial in helping to identify the suspects and also exactly what happened that night,” Jenkins added.

It is to Makin’s understanding that there are currently no plans to expand the use of security cameras at WSU but that campus police has expressed interest in the idea.

He said data evaluations regarding the impact of the cameras would need to be completed before any commitment to expansion will be entertained.
“We do have the capacity and ability to expand with more cameras on campus but part of that will be cost and whether or not there are other suitable locations to place the cameras,” said Jenkins.

Whether the program grows, or stays the same, it is clear that it has been a resounding success thus far and provided an invaluable experience to the future faces of justice at WSU.

“The intent of the program was to find out how to impart crime prevention and improve public safety,” said Makin.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish so we’ll continue the evaluation process and look forward to seeing what we can find towards a proactive resolution.”

Sources:

-Gary Jenkins, Chief of Police, Pullman P.D.
(509) 334-0802

-Elysia Spencer, Administrative Asst./SCI Project Grant Manager, Pullman P.D.
(509) 334-0802

-Dr. David A. Makin, WSU Criminal Justice Professor, Project Facilitator
(317) 797-1126

-Anthony Kuntz, WSU Criminal Justice Major
(406) 697-4359

David Makin Interview Audio:

Criminal Justice Story Pitch

Story Pitch Outline: Security Cameras on Adams Mall, Smart Policing Initiative

Two-Sentence Explanation:
The Pullman Police Department received a $300,000 grant in the fall of 2011 from the Smart Policing initiative.

They used this money towards the implementation of surveillance cameras, which were installed at Adams Mall.

Evidence:
David Warner assault case videos, case files.

Why Now:
To talk about how police are utilizing technology in order to make arrests.

Interviews:
Gary Jenkins- Pullman Police ChiefFormat and Length:
David Makin- WSU Criminal Justice Professor
Glenn Johnson- Mayor

500 words, news story.