University as a Retail Store for Academic Consumers

Posted on November 24, 2013 by Marko Dimjašević

I finished my undergrad at the University of Zagreb in Croatia. It is great to be in academia in Croatia because it hasn’t become a production line (students being the main product) and market, at least not to the degree the University of Utah has, where I am a student these days. However, it won’t be long until universities in Croatia move more aggressively in the same direction.

Photo by Nina Hale

I’ve been studying at the University of Utah since fall 2012. From the very first moments I started here at the university, I’ve noticed a disturbing mind set present throughout the university — in the USA everything is for sale, and the university simply follows the national trend.

Just like last year, security and privacy of everyone at the university is for sale. The irony is that one does not pay to obtain security and privacy, but to surrender them to corporations and the USA government. Believe it or not, people do it in sheer numbers.

Ever since I started writing this blog, I have been warning about proprietary software and in general about software that the user does not have control of. Proprietary software takes freedom away from its user, and transfers the freedom and control to someone else. If up to a few months ago you thought these are just empty words, revealings of what the USA’s National Spying Agency (NSA) has been doing should clarify that they are not empty, because proprietary software is the key for surveillance. The scale at which the surveillance has been going on in the USA confirms the opposite of what the USA government (and the mainstream media) has been claiming: the USA is not a free and democratic society, but a totalitarian regime.

Proprietary software on your computer takes away the freedom from you, and these days turns you into a yet another surveillance target. With proprietary software, the users have no way of making sure it does not go against them because its inner workings are hidden from them. It has been shown in countless occasions that proprietary software is used against its users, recent NSA revealings just confirming it. On the other hand, free software provides much lower incentives for software developers to mistreat the users, hence we should always reject proprietary software and use free software only.

Microsoft software “products”, along those by Apple, are the very instruments for making with the regime. The reason this is the case is that these “products” — be it Windows, OS X, Skype, Mac computers or some other — have been designed in a way to take away the freedom from the user, and put someone else in control. Once an excuse had appeared (to fight terrorism), the government started exercising the control and utilizing these instruments against the people.

Sadly enough, the university sells these “products” on the university campus. Just like in the previous years, the university offers the products discounted and tax-free for Thanksgiving. Therefore, you can save money while becoming a target of the regime. Students at the university can even get some of the Microsoft “products” at no cost; in other words, students don’t need to pay money to be under the surveillance — Microsoft (and the government) will watch students gratis.

Photo by Digitale Gesellschaft

The university has become a retail store selling technology that works against the people. In spite of all the revealings on how harmful the technology is, the university actively invites all the university staff, professors, and students to give away their freedom. By doing so, the university betrays its purpose, which is to form intellectuals that will question the world around them and bring prosperity to the society.