More than 1,300 educational institutions across the country use software developed by Charlottesville-based Maxient, which bills itself as the “industry leader” and “most trusted provider for incident reporting and behavior records management.” Clients include most of Virginia’s public institutions of higher education.
The recent revelation in the CollegeFix and Wall Street Journal that the nation’s universities maintain consolidated files on student “behavior” is troubling to many’ The phrase “student conduct software” conjures images of “Big Brother” college administrators compiling dossiers on students who commit microaggressions or otherwise transgress woke codes on speech and behavior.
While it is becoming clear (1) that most colleges have developed the capability to build such dossiers and (2) that many have integrated them with their “bias reporting” systems, concrete incidents of abuse have yet to surface. The fact is, little is known about how the software is being used. Only now are questions being asked.
The Cadet, the independent student newspaper at the Virginia Military Institute, has taken an important first step in finding out. The Cadet submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to all public universities to determine how Maxient is being used. Some institutions — Longwood University and Mary Washington University — were particularly forthcoming. Some were not. Virginia Commonwealth University refused to hand over any documents or answer any questions, referring The Cadet to the university’s website.
(Jefferson Council FOIA requests reveal that the University of Virginia-Wise has a contract to use Maxient software. The University of Virginia itself has no contract. We are endeavoring to find out if UVa uses “student conduct” software at all, either provided by a different vendor or programmed in-house.)
The Longwood and Mary Washington responses to The Cadet FOIA show the kinds of incidents that at least two public universities are putting into their “student conduct” databases. Continue reading