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Why Print Name in Fake ID Case?

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

To the Editors of the Crimson:

On Feb. 20 a friend of ours was required by the Administrative Board to withdraw from Harvard for a year for making false identification. We think you should be aware of this because you had a direct role in the events leading to this disciplinary action.

Two weeks ago, one of your reporters was in the city court house for reasons unrelated to this case when he recognized that a defendant was a Harvard student. The student was in court to hear his sentence after having turned himself in to the police several months earlier. After the reporter gave information on the court proceeding, The Crimson decided to run an article on the affair ["Student Admits Fake ID Sale," Feb. 15].

But was there any good reason to print that article? Was there any reason to print it other than that the article made an interesting story. If so, such a lack of ethical judgment is shocking. Who in the community (this is a community newspaper) was supposed to benefit from the news or information in the article? The article concerned a person who violated state law and then accepted the state's punishment for his violation.

This is not any College business. It might concern the civil standing of Harvard's students, but any number of Harvard students have had a variety of involvements with the law around the country, and The Crimson does not feel compelled to station reporters in court houses around the country to keep a "black list" of all their infractions. So why was it necessary to publicize this chance discovery?

Even if you felt justified in making the student body aware of goings on in students' lives, it was entirely unnecessary to use the student's name. To report that an unnamed student of the college admitted his crime would serve the purpose of making the community aware of the proceeding. Including his name adds nothing to that end. invasive to deny the student any discretion regarding who knows of his personal involvement in the incident.

Maybe you do feel that this event needed to be fully reported in the Harvard community. But there is a difference between reporting news and creating news. Even after recounting the highlights of the court proceeding, The Crimson did not stop. Reporters called Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III and interrogated him regarding his knowledge of and involvement in the affair, which, of course, was nil.

But by pestering Epps about the case, The Crimson was insinuating that the administration should have known about it and should have a disciplinary policy toward it. The result was dire consequences for the student.

This case stands in stark contrast to a similar occurrence last year when a student was caught for the same crime. The Crimson did not meddle in the affair; it merely reported after the fact that an unnamed student was put on disciplinary probation for his illicit activity. Is there a new policy at The Crimson this year that it now considers itself a moral tribunal which will decide when individuals have been adequately punished?

Of course this letter is futile. The Crimson made its decision two weeks ago and the Adminsitrative Board made its decision last week. We merely wish to complain about what we feel was very poor journalistic judgement.

Editor's note: The assertion that The Crimson withheld the name of a student arrested last year is incorrect. The letter evidently refers to the the case of a student who was arrested last February for allegedly falsifying driver's licenses. In keeping with its policy, The Crimson printed the student's name in the story "Freshman Is Arrested on Fake ID charges," Feb. 22, 1989. Leo Clark'92   (On behalf of a group of 10 students)

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