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An issue of student privacy

Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I have never written to The Observer before, but the disgust that I felt Wednesday in reading the names of those students arrested at the Library Irish Pub has compelled me to do so.

The Observer staff will argue that they have a right to report the names of these students because police arrests are public information; I grant them this right. What I cannot understand is why the staff would opt to tarnish the reputations of their fellow students. I have struggled to find a reason as to why a student newspaper at this University would lower itself to such a level, especially after repeated requests that names not be used.

Before the night was over, most knew of the bust at the Library. If anyone had wanted to find out the names of those arrested, they could have checked the daily police blotter in the local paper. This is the cause of my disgust: not one student on this campus needs to know who was arrested. What does knowing the student’s name enable us to do that we would have been unable to do otherwise? The difficulty in formulating a response to this question proves that there is a line of student privacy that should not be crossed.

My goal with this letter is to defend the privacy and integrity of those arrested, and to ask the question of why our student newspaper would turn its back on the students. The Observer may be a nationally recognized student newspaper, but I am embarrassed to call it my own.

Jake Roffman



April 21