Students Contest HUPD Privacy

Following recommendations issued last Wednesday by a University advisory group investigating Harvard’s policies on releasing campus crime information publicly, three student members of the group released a controversial addendum attacking both the group’s recommendations and its proceedings.

The advisory group—which included students, administrators and an independent journalist and was created by the University this fall—stopped short of asking the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) to release the incident reports that public police departments must make available under Mass. law. But it recommended a formal institutionalization of information sharing between HUPD and the student press, an increase in the amount and detail of information in HUPD’s public police log, and the regular release of aggregate statistics about suicides and suicide attempts on campus.

The addendum, which was written by former Crimson president Amit R. Paley ’04 and the Undergraduate and Graduate Council representatives to the group, Scott F. Goldman ’04-’05 and Tracy J. Wells, primarily criticized the recommendation regarding the confidentiality of HUPD’s internal reports and the lack of any final vote approving the group’s report.

“In terms of why we felt the need to write an addendum, it was always my impression that we would be voting on the reports, that there would some sort of signing off process at the end,” Paley said. “It never says who agreed to what was stated in the final report.”

The committee was formed in the wake of a lawsuit brought against the University by The Crimson to gain access to detailed HUPD crime reports in accordance with the Mass. law that requires state officers and employees to release certain information to the public. The release of the final report comes just over two months after a Middlesex Superior Court judge decided to dismiss The Crimson’s lawsuit. The Crimson is currently appealing the decision.

University spokesperson Joe Wrinn, who served on the advisory committee, said that he disagreed with the students’ suggestion that their voices had not been taken into account.

“This addendum came out of left field, and personally as a member of the task force, I was disappointed to see it,” Wrinn said. “The students can certainly have their opinions on specific issues, but the last part was very disappointing because it implied that their voice hadn’t been heard and that’s simply not true.”

But Goldman said that while the students had been given a fair voice during the committee’s discussions, he was still disappointed by the lack of a final vote on the report.

“We definitely had opportunities to speak our minds,” Goldman said. “My concern was that in the end I thought there would be some way to sign on or sign off, but there wasn’t.”

Paley also said that because the author of the final report was not a committee member but instead was Christopher C. Kim ’99, an aide to University President Lawrence H. Summers, it reflected the view of the administration.

“It was pretty clear that there was a gap between the administration’s view on incident reports and what the students on the committee thought,” he said.

However, Harvard’s Vice President and General Counsel Robert W. Iuliano ’83 wrote in an e-mail yesterday that all members of the committee were given the chance to amend the final draft of the report.

“[A]ll members were given several opportunities to both write and edit drafts of the report before it was formally released to the Crimson the week after the full group agreed to its recommendations,” Iuliano wrote.

Goldman said that releasing the addendum without first addressing concerns to the entire committee may have been a mistake.

“I think the whole addendum thing may have been a tactical error,” Goldman said. “Basically people’s feelings have been hurt and that’s too bad.”

Graduate School of Education student Michael J. Novielli, the only student member of the committee who did not sign the addendum, said that while he agreed with some of the points it raised, he did not feel comfortable putting his name on it.