(By: Subi Anandarajah)
Ryerson students are having data about them gathered via clipboards that are being discovered in lectures, according to an email Ryerson Community Safety and Security delivered on Wed., Sept. 19.
Clipboards are seeking background information for a “Management Opportunity for Summer 2019,” according to the email.
“They were handed around the classroom. My prof didn’t mention anything about it, so us being first years, we thought this was a way of attendance, so we all signed it,” wrote Idana Scaccia, a first-year creative industries student, via Messenger.
“I was sitting near the back, and [I] don’t remember how the clipboard got to my prof, but when it did, she didn’t even know what it was and how it got in the class,” said Scaccia.
Scaccia said she came across a clipboard in her creative industries overview course at the Yonge-Dundas theatre during its first class.
“[T]he sheet said to leave it at the back of the class, but [I] guess the last person brought [it] to the prof,” she wrote in a follow-up interview via Messenger.
Scaccia said her professor’s unfamiliarity with the clipboard perplexed her.
Natalie Neagu, another first-year creative industries student, said in a phone interview that she thought one of the questions on the sheet was strange.
“They were asking me if I was going to be in Toronto for the summer, which I guess makes sense if they’re considering a summer management position, but it was really random,” said Neagu.
“The clipboard was genuinely identical to the image you’ve seen circulating online. So I remember it asked for my name, my phone number, which now I realize I don’t know why they would do that.”
Neagu said her encounter with the clipboards also occurred during her creative industries overview course in the Yonge-Dundas theatre.
“All of a sudden, I was just handed a clipboard by the student next to me, and I saw that there had already been quite a few names written on it,” said Neagu.
“I didn’t think too much about it because the professor was still lecturing, so I was kind of like, ‘Yeah, this seems cool. I’ll just fill in my information and pass it on.’ I did process that there wasn’t a specific company name on the clipboard, but again, I was more preoccupied with the lecture, so I just kind of let it slide.”
Phone calls have been made to some students who wrote down their numbers on the clipboard, according to the Ryerson Community Safety and Security email.
“I know a couple of kids have, but I personally haven’t yet,” said Neagu, when asked whether she had received any calls.
Scaccia wrote that she had also not been contacted regarding the clipboards.
She realized the clipboards were concerning when her peers had been phoned and the possibility of a connection between human trafficking and the clipboards was brought up in their posts, said Scaccia.
In order to enlighten people about the situation and let them know what was occurring, Scaccia posted about the clipboards with the link to CityNews’ report of the story.
Neagu was warned about the clipboards from someone who lives on her floor in residence. She said he posted a picture of the clipboard on social media telling people to be careful. That’s when she started doing some of her own research about these clipboards and informing her classmates about it.
“Toronto Police Service is aware and investigating. We advise students not to disclose personal information to groups or individuals they do not know,” read the Ryerson security email.
People are asked to either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-979-5040 if they know more about the clipboards or detect them within the grounds of the university, according to the email.
“I just think it’s so odd. It’s clever because a lot of kids, like myself, were either too preoccupied with something else to really process the clipboard and put down their information, or they just didn’t care very much and again put down their information,” said Neagu.
“It was a really easy way to get information from a multitude of kids all at once without them really realizing what was happening,” she said.
The extensive approach of the clipboards is alarming because the clipboards are a matter of discussion at universities apart from Ryerson – her Western University friends are aware of them as well, said Neagu.
“[I] hope it can be resolved soon, and that our school can be safe and everyone’s name on that list is safe as well,” said Scaccia.
“[I] know my friends attending other universities have shared that [they’ve] received this clipboard, and [I] hope that everyone that signed it are all safe too and that nothing happens related to this incident.”