the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Sam Bradley ’23
When considering weapons of mass destruction, things like the atomic bomb come to mind, the culmination of over 130,000 people’s work and $2,000,000,000 in the almighty Manhattan Project to create the weapon to end all weapons. Or perhaps you think of chemical and biological warfare, which was eventually deemed so powerful and inhumane that it was outlawed by the people who created the laws of war. Yet there is one weapon that even the Geneva Conventions failed to consider: the Westminster community news tag. Its power dwarves all the aforementioned triumphs of scientific chaos. It provides the ability to simultaneously contact over 500 individuals with the press of a button, with literally no restrictions or password requirements. As of now, its power is completely unchecked and prone to abuse. What if an unhinged individual were to go on an email sending spree using this tag? On the scale of the whole community, the result would be a total of, well, at least several minutes of wasted time! It makes one question how such a thing was allowed to be created in the first place.
We should consider ourselves lucky that we haven’t seen the full potential of power used yet, but that’s not to say we haven’t seen glimpses of it. Take, for instance, the infamous grilled cheese incident of September 28th, 2020. The fallout from this was effectively managed soon after with an exceedingly heartfelt and sincere apology, but one can only imagine what might have happened if it wasn’t so promptly dealt with. Or take a gander back into your inbox at the email chain from last May after graduation that spanned 30+ messages. (Fortunately, these rogue delinquents no longer have access to their Westminster accounts.) Or literally any time the power goes out. Not to mention the increasingly ubiquitous ‘lost backpack’ or ‘lost AirPods' messages (It seems inevitable that every student will eventually send one of these out at some point before they graduate). And to think this is only the tip of the iceberg! This should truly instill fear in the hearts of innocent Westminster community members. It has become increasingly clear that precautions need to be taken for the safety of the community and the storage of the Westminster Gmail domain.
Here’s my idea. A 32-digit passcode that changes every hour will be required going forward when using the community news tag to ensure the stability of everyone’s inbox. But how will this passcode be protected and distributed (stringently, of course) if absolutely necessary? Here’s where it gets interesting. We equip a faculty member with a metal Zero Halliburton briefcase with the passcode in it handcuffed to them, similar to how the launch codes are managed by the government. Needless to say, they would need their own team of secret security to protect the ‘football’ as it has been dubbed. Whenever someone has been deemed worthy of sending a community email, they will have to meet in private and will be shown the code for a few seconds, just enough time for them to memorize it and also minimize the risk of leaking the code. And if it does somehow leak, the code automatically changes before any damage can be done. Boom, problem solved, disaster avoided. Is this solution tedious and overcareful? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Some might argue this procedure isn’t careful enough for an asset as significant as the community news tag. Who can really say for sure? But as the unbiased mediator here, I simply don’t see any other feasible solution to what is unquestionably the biggest ongoing issue here at Westminster, which is why these changes need to be implemented ASAP.