The Graduate Student Association Executive Team would like to release a statement regarding the recent ban of the app Pokemon GO on campus:
Firstly, we feel that this sets a dangerous precedent in which UNMC and Nebraska Medicine can police what students, employees, patients, and the public do on their own phones, on their own time, on public property. We find it very concerning that such an action has been deemed an acceptable approach to solving a problem.
Secondly, we are concerned that a huge number of possible benefits of this game have been overlooked, and that banning it is preventing a lot of positive results of having this game available on campus. Many students and members of the public have identified a wide variety of benefits provided by this game, including improved physical health, improved mental health, relationship building, improved patient outcomes, positive interactions with the community, educational opportunities, outreach opportunities, and many more. The Graduate Student Association was planning several events that would involve the game and would benefit patients, students, and the university. Due to the ban, we are no longer able to hold these events as we had envisioned them. As an alternative, we are moving forward with these plans as best we can under the current circumstances, and are accepting donations of Game Boys and Pokemon game cartridges for children admitted to Nebraska Medicine, since they will no longer be able to enjoy Pokemon GO if UNMC and Nebraska Medicine are successful in having all the PokeStops and Gyms removed. If you would like to donate, please contact GSA.
We agree with many of the opinions expressed in the comments of the UNMC Today article, especially those related to UNMC’s core values and mission statement. Surely an organization that values innovation, teamwork, excellence, accountability, courage, and healing can find a way to embrace the many positive opportunities introduced by this game while also ensuring the safety and wellbeing of everyone on this campus.
We absolutely understand the need to protect patient privacy and maintain security on campus. This is of the utmost importance, and we certainly agree that taking action to address any potential security issues is entirely appropriate. However, if a security concern has been identified due to the game, then the problem existed before the game was released, and the game has only highlighted the preexisting problem. We feel that if our current security systems and protocols allow members of the public to wander into sensitive areas, then the root of the problem needs to be addressed by updating security, not by banning a phone app. If security breaches like this have occurred or have been deemed likely to occur, then we urge that appropriate actions be taken quickly to ensure the safety of our patients and others. We do not believe that banning this phone app adequately addresses these potential issues.
We hope that the officials in charge of this new policy will come forward and express a willingness to explore other possible solutions. We have a lot of ideas in this regard and would be happy to work with administration to discuss them.