Advising, Counseling and Testing Services is listening.

Somehow it doesn’t have the same ring as “Big Brother is watching,” but the results are upsettingly similar.

A new retention program has been put in place by ACTS (formerly Student Services) to ensure incoming freshmen get the “proper attention.”

MIDS 100 students, including 700 already, will fill out a questionnaire meant to judge everything from their sociability to their sense of financial security.

The results are then tabulated and packaged into a table of information given out to a student’s adviser.

In addition to using a graph to attempt to measure things like study habits, verbal confidence and attitude towards educators, these reports can include a student’s senior year grade-point-average and their parent’s level of education.

It’s wise that ACTS cares so much about retention. (With the University in its current financial state, who wouldn’t?)

But isn’t reducing a student to a single slip of paper going a bit far?

While advisers are warned at the top of the report that they ought to “avoid psychological counseling if not professionally trained for such work,” those with access to the reports are free to make whatever judgments they see fit.

By no means do we expect every adviser at Southern to see a red flag because someone’s mother didn’t finish high school, but the room for error in this equation is astronomical. Students who don’t take the test seriously could end up listed as “at risk.”

This is degrading.

ACTS Director Kelly Wilson said she believes this program tells students “we’re listening and now it’s a relationship.”

They’re listening all right.

Let’s hope they listen those same voices when they express outrage as Southern’s incoming freshman are – literally – reduced to numbers.