NYU and Sallie Mae

Longtime readers will know I’ve been frequently frustrated and puzzled by NYU’s infrastructural choices. When I first arrived I learned they used my SSN as my student identification. I protested, wrote a formal letter, and was eventually issued a new SSN-like number. But, of course, this didn’t easily propagate through the institution so there were often mismatches, duplication, and confusion when I used the computer labs, athletic, library, health, and insurance services. Eventually, this policy blew up in their face when students’ SSNs were accidentally released and all students were issued a new, proper, identification. But this meant that for a period, I had to remember three different numbers!

Other poor choices of NYU: an inefficient library site, an inaccessible and proprietary classroom management system (i.e. blackboard), a broken student registration site (e.g., “don’t use the back button”, and “it works in Internet Explorer”), blocking the SSH port so I can’t securely use their network, requiring a proprietary client for their wireless network (for which there’s no “support” for Linux and Palm), etc.

The latest head-scratcher is an announcement that we must use their new electronic billing system. Clicking on a URL in the e-mail announcement, I was redirected to what appeared to be a Sallie Mae site with an NYU logo. I immediately think this feels an awful lot like a phishing attack. (I frequently receive advertisements from spammers, who know I am a student, to my unpublished NYU e-mail address, so some how even this leaked out!) And even if this isn’t a phishing attack, Sallie Mae is the last company I want to have any dealings with: their slimy marketing and brutal collection practices are widely criticized; NYU’s announcement came just before Sallie Mae’s sweetheart payoffs to university officials became headline news!

After I e-mailed NYU about the security and privacy practices of the service, I learned I can “petition” to opt out after I fill out more paperwork. NYU… man…!

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