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.