Columbia University Tells Students Not To Ignore Wikileaks

from the good-for-them dept

Columbia University got some attention last week for telling students in its School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) that the Career Services office had heard from an alum in the State Department suggesting that students who hoped to work for the State Department should avoid discussing the Wikileaks cable leaks publicly. As we noted, this seemed ridiculous. The folks who are most interested in international diplomacy are the folks who are most likely to be discussing this very issue. Thankfully, the University has apparently realized how bad this looks and has sent out a second letter saying that it supports free speech and open discussion and encourages people to freely discuss whatever it is they want:

Freedom of information and expression is a core value of our institution. Thus, SIPA’s position is that students have a right to discuss and debate any information in the public arena that they deem relevant to their studies or to their roles as global citizens, and to do so without fear of adverse consequences. The WikiLeaks documents are accessible to SIPA students (and everyone else) from a wide variety of respected sources, as are multiple means of discussion and debate both in and outside of the classroom.

The Wired article linked above also notes that a professor in the program, Gary Sick, who has been a noted critic of Wikileaks, was an even bigger critic of the original email that was sent out:

“If anyone is a master’s student in international relations and they haven’t heard of WikiLeaks and gone looking for the documents that relate to their area of study, then they don’t deserve to be a graduate student in international relations.”

He apparently also told Wired that asking students to ignore the whole thing was “absurd.” If only the actual folks in the federal government viewed things the same way.

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Comments on “Columbia University Tells Students Not To Ignore Wikileaks”

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Marcus Carab (profile) says:

“…then they don’t deserve to be a graduate student in international relations.”

Very nice to hear – that was exactly the first thing I thought. If a bunch of secret Google code got leaked online somehow, should computer science students pretend it didn’t? Or if the plans for a next-gen concept car got leaked, should industrial design and engineering students ignore it? No. Any who did would be instantly falling behind. I think it’s generally agreed that one of the core elements of success in any field is being absolutely ravenous about finding new information.

Rdudley says:

Impact of reduced workforce

I understand what the alum was doing. For may of these future State Department employees reading such material could potential make them ineligible for employment. Here is the reason. If required to get a clearance in some case employees may be required to take a polygraph test. On possible question would be “Have you ever read any classified information with out the proper approval?” If employees cannot obtain or maintain a security clearance then they can be terminated from employment. There have been several emails and such warning that this type of question could be used in the future for folks requiring clearances. The issues is that the information released is still classified since it has not be declassified by the Government. The school may be casing more harm than good. Now I do believe that in the future this will be a wash since most everyone will have read some part of the leaked documents. The issues here is if a new employee of the Government needs a clearance to do his or her job will they be considered trust worthy based on reading documents that they know are classified.

abc gum says:

Re: Impact of reduced workforce

That argument is simply retarded, as are those in government who parrot it or attempt to enforce it.

This silliness reminds me of the three monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Although subject to various interpretations, the one I am thinking of is called – Willful ignorance. Ignoring what is right in front of you is quite arrogant and can led to disasterous results.

abc gum says:

Re: Re: Re: Impact of reduced workforce

The point of poly is to determine whether the subject is truthful, not whether they have read any particular content.
If you have read wikileaks and they ask, you should be honest about it – no big deal. The FUD being spread about future employment which requires a clearance is just a bunch of BS.

Anonymous Coward says:

Polygraph questions

employees may be required to take a polygraph test

If you make an appointment with the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, they’ll teach you how to pass your polygraph exam.

Don’t go with the Chinese. I know their rates are cheaper, but their course material is all in Engrish. Taking the Chinese polygraph course is like figuring out the instructions on your VCR. The Russian polygraph course is high class?guaranteed to teach you how to pass your polygraph exam on your first try! Or your money back.

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