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Profscan left in the lurch

by Archives April 4, 2001
The CSU has severed its ties with Profscan, a teacher rating web site, after racist comments about a professor were posted and the teacher complained.
One comment was posted at the end of January and the other at the beginning of February. They stated that a certain professor was racist toward a particular group of students.
In response, the teacher sent a letter to the CSU asking the comments be removed because it caused damage to the professor’s reputation.
“I am a human being and I missed those racist comments by mistake,” said Victor Tudor, a computer engineering student who began working for Profscan this year.
“Profscan’s website has a section called ‘Get in touch’ where you can get in touch with me and there is also the `manifesto’ page where you can contact me and the creators of Profscan, Bill Klein and Ben Mattes,” he added.
“The reason why the teacher complained to the CSU is because the CSU logo is on Profscan’s site and there is no contact information on Profscan’s web site,” said CSU president Rob Green.
Before the teacher complained, the CSU’s logo was on the Profscan web site and was linked to the CSU’s web page. In the wake of the complaint, the logo was removed.
“Rob Green said that he would go after me if I didn’t remove the logo,” said Tudor.
Green said that Tudor was not willing to screen every comment and that Tudor has a lack of resources to do so. On the other hand, Tudor said he screens every comment and the reason those two comments were posted was because of human error and also because of a surge of comments at the end of January and a backlog due to server problems.
Tudor added that if the professor had a problem with the comments, the teacher should have contacted Profscan directly.

Who owns and controls Profscan?
The student union said it had no way of screening Profscan comments themselves, but Tudor said this was not true.
“They were given the access codes and password to the site. If they don’t have it is because they are disorganized,” he said.
Former CSU vp internal Peter Taylor said he had the access codes. When his mandate ended, he disposed the access codes.
He added that when Mattes approached him last year, he assumed that Profscan would check every comment. He also said that he felt no need to enter a contract with Profscan.
Green stated that Tudor did not want to enter a legal contract with the CSU. But Tudor said that he could not enter into a contract with the CSU because Profscan is not his — it belongs to Bill Klein — and he has no authority to enter a contract since he is only a volunteer. Furthermore, both creators are out of town.
According to Green, the relationship between Profscan and the CSU was based only on promoting the site and nothing more.
Tudor said that the previous administrators of Profscan, Klein and Mattes, approached the CSU for support last year by helping to administer it and pay the $300 annual server fee that Klein currently pays for.
“The CSU is taking credit for a service that they do not help maintain or pay for,” Tudor said.

Musical chairs
Mattes said in an e-mail interview that Taylor negotiated the original relationship between Profscan and the CSU. They agreed that the CSU was to advertise on behalf of Profscan by putting up posters and having class visits. In return, Profscan would link the CSU to their main page and allow the CSU to use their news feature to spread word of CSU events. Mattes said that the CSU never took advantage of this option.
He added that when he graduated, he was the sole administrator. Since he had no one to administer it he wanted to sell it. When Taylor found out, he convinced Mattes not to sell and agreed that Taylor would take over the responsibility of Profscan and that he would screen the comments.
“I sent them complete instructions on how to maintain the site, as well as full administrative privileges,” Mattes said.
According to him, the entries were not being screened and he started screening the entries himself. When the summer came the CSU administration changed and he heard nothing more from union. Mattes found Tudor to take over his position.
Tudor said he was not responsible for the comment because he did not post it. But he added that he and the CSU were each partially responsible. “I missed those comments and that’s my fault, but the CSU had the access codes to screen the comments.”
Green disagreed. “Victor Tudor is not willing to take responsibility whatsoever. It is his job to screen the comments.”
“Once school is over I will be implementing improvements to prevent this problem from reoccurring,” said Tudor.
“I think Profscan is a good service that is very valuable for students and I hope it will re-emerge in a different form,” said Green.

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