It has been one year since the University set out to decide whether Penn should release the names of students convicted by the University judicial system of violent offenses or non-violent sexual offenses. The process was triggered by a change in the federal law that had once prohibited such disclosure on the grounds that it violated student privacy. Now that federal law no longer stands in the way, it is Penn's moral and ethical obligation to release the names of convicted student offenders. All Americans have a right to privacy. All Americans have a responsibility to obey the law. And all Americans -- except college students -- forfeit their right to privacy when they break the law. The logical reason for this is that rights and responsibilities are part and parcel. You can't have one without the other. The common sense reasons include: public humiliation as a deterrent to breaking the law in the first place; society's right to know who among us might break the law again; and the open courts as a guarantor of due process. Committee Chair Richard Beeman, dean of the College, has said early and often that the judicial system at Penn should not be considered equivalent to the American judicial system, where defendants names are always made public, because "we do have an obligation... to protect the privacy of our students." But Beeman has failed to explain why the rationale underlying the American legal system should not apply to Penn's legal system, too. Perhaps he thinks that mistakes made in college should not follow a person through life. When it comes to some mistakes, so does Congress. That is why Penn is legally barred from releasing the names of students convicted of a whole range of offenses ranging from cheating to damaging property. We'll not take issue with Congress in this space, though some might find it disturbing that this legal loophole shields only those who can afford to attend college. But we challenge Dean Beeman to explain why Penn students convicted of violent offenses or non-violent sexual offenses should not be held to the same standard as everyone else.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.