The University Record, September 24, 1996


Privacy is still the issue

The Alumni Association's response (Sept 10) to my concerns about the alumni directory (Sept 3) fails to address the key issue.

Publication of the directory makes a mockery of the privacy of individual alumni. Many of the 200,000-plus people listed in the directory encountered severe educational or financial difficulties as students. Others now live in institutional circumstances which they would prefer not to share with their former classmates. Thousands more experienced some form of sexual harassment while on campus, overwhelmingly at the hands of other students or University employees.

The University's standard operating practices for information resources, which require explicit authorization for release of such data, are intended to protect people's privacy rights in precisely these sorts of situations. By blatantly violating the standards, the Association is perpetuating an all-too-common atmosphere of "blaming the victim." It is also sailing murky legal waters, should the directory become instrumental to the perpetration of some unpleasantry in the future.

John Murray Ph.D. '96