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Though students at Columbia University were advised to think twice before tweeting “#WikiLeaks,” Penn students have received no similar warning.

WikiLeaks — a website that exposes confidential diplomatic messages — recently released information on topics ranging from the future of North Korea to terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.

Last week, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs sent students an e-mail with instructions not to discuss or link to WikiLeaks on social networking sites, as such actions could jeopardize future job opportunities — especially with the federal government.

On Monday, however, SIPA’s Dean sent a follow-up e-mail to reverse the warning, asserting that students may discuss things relevant to their studies or roles as global citizens.

Although no administrative e-mails have been sent to Penn students about WikiLeaks, students and faculty voiced different opinions regarding SIPA’s warning to its students.

“This is not inconsistent with generic advice when you’re applying for a job,” said Director of the Fels Public Policy Internship Program Dierdre Martinez, explaining students need to be very careful about what they put on the internet.

She added that the State Department may view discussion of WikiLeaks online as a reflection of a person’s approach to sensitive data. “If you’re all for the distribution of sensitive data, you might not be the kind of diplomat they want,” she said.

Senior Associate Director of Career Services Barbara Hewitt commonly hears stories about individuals either not getting hired or getting fired because of something found on the internet.

She added, though, that Penn wants individuals to be engaged in what’s going on in the world, “even if it’s controversial.”

Many Penn students, like College junior Jim Santel, do just that. In the middle of last week, when the The New York Times was at the height of its WikiLeaks coverage, Santel wrote a commentary about the issue on his blog. He argued that rather than winning a victory of transparency, WikiLeaks is participating in a long and harmful trend of paranoia in American politics.

Santel — who might be interested in pursuing a government job in the future — did not know that posting about WikiLeaks could be potentially harmful to his job prospects. But, even in light of the recent warnings, he plans to leave his post online.

“It seems to me that a student talking about WikiLeaks has no bearing on whether or not they can keep a secret,” he said. “To pretend like nothing happened seems a little deluded — this stuff’s out there and people are talking about it.”

College senior Grant Dubler also claims he was unaware of the State Department policy when he discussed WikiLeaks on Facebook, Twitter and his radio show on

Calling website creator Julian Assange’s behavior “abhorrent,” Dubler said, “To think having kids not post this on their Facebooks will keep the secrets safe is ridiculous.”

“Anything that I or most people have written about, you could Google and get 500 articles — it’s a pointless policy,” he added.

Professor of History and Sociology of Science Nathan Ensmenger ­— who teaches a course called “The Information Age” about contemporary issues in internet policy — supports students like Dubler and Santel.

“I wouldn’t advise students to shy away from WikiLeaks,” he said. “The risk is very minimal, and students shouldn’t allow themselves to be frightened away from legitimate news stories like this.”

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