The Food Bank logo
Most students who spoke to the Fulcrum were unaware that their information was public and readily accessible online. Image: UOSU
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Information was public on Tuesday night, unclear how long it was public on the UOSU’s website

The Fulcrum was made aware on Tuesday night that the information of multiple University of Ottawa students who used the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) Food Bank was publicly available on the union’s website.

A total number of 111 students were listed on the document along with their personal student numbers and emails. 

The document also contained the phone numbers of 62 students and featured a list of items with the number of times they were requested by students. 

“I definitely don’t like that this information is readily available to the public, it feels like a massive breach of privacy to me,” said one student whose name was on the list. 

All students whose names were found in the document and decided to comment were granted full anonymity by the Fulcrum for privacy reasons.

“And to many users of the food bank, myself included, it’s likely something that we’re not proud of, and it almost feels embarrassing to use it,” they added. “So having this information out there for anyone to see makes me feel bad, and also makes me lose trust in our student union.”

“[It] is completely outrageous we are asking them for help and instead they are putting our information to light,” said a different student whose name was also on the list.

The information, all formulated on a Google Form, was available to anybody who clicked on the “free food order form” on the UOSU’s website under the Food Bank section. Once on the form, the user could access all the information by clicking on “see previous responses.” 

The link to the “free food order form” was taken down shortly after the Fuclrum inquired UOSU of the situation.

The Google Form with the link to students’ information, it has since been taken down. Image: Charley Dutil/Fulcrum

When asked if the information of students using the Food Bank was supposed to remain confidential, Tim Gulliver, the UOSU’s advocacy commissioner, said that  “yes” the information of students who use the union’s food bank should be private.

As of the publication of this article, the UOSU has not issued an official statement, however, Gulliver indicated that the union “[will] have more to say.”

Unaware students “repulsed” and “disgusted”

“It is ridiculous that the UOSU uses a simple Google document to administer our confidential information. I never consented that my name be on the public display,” wrote a student to the Fulcrum. “In fact, I checked it out myself and I saw that. I sent the university an email asking for immediate action.” 

“[It] is certainly disgusting and repulsive that they let such information out without our consent,” wrote another student.

Most students who spoke to the Fulcrum were unaware that their information was public and readily accessible online. 

“Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I wasn’t even aware of it. I have only used the service once and it’s not exactly information I wanted to have shared,” wrote a separate student in an email to the Fulcrum.

The breach has resulted in some users deciding not to use the service in the future.

“I will not be using the [UOSU] Food Bank again after this because I take my privacy really seriously and I know this privacy breach will also deter others from using this service which can actually be really helpful. Super upsetting to see when it’s such an important service,” the aforementioned student added.

Other students who were on the list vented their frustrations with the student union, upon finding out the news. 

“Learning this frustrates me greatly. I would have much preferred hearing this problem from the student union themselves. Why have they not told us anything about this? It is a big deal to have your private information exposed like this. I’m actually very disturbed,” wrote one student to the Fulcrum.

“It makes me wonder if the union is really there for us, or care for us, compared to the previous student union we had. How come they did not notify us themselves is the main question for me,” they added.

“Well, I was never actually contacted about picking up the food so it seems as though my privacy was breached for nothing,” wrote another student in an email to the Fulcrum. 

“This is to be expected of student government. Forever incompetent.” 

It is unclear how long the information was public. This article will be updated as new information becomes available.