Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Harvard's secret police. The Globe's Jenna Russell reports today that the Harvard Crimson is suing the university to gain access to the campus police log -- a public record under Massachusetts law, but Harvard is claiming an exemption on the grounds that it is a private institution.

The students argue, logically enough, that since Harvard police officers have the power of arrest, they should be held to the same standard as police officers everywhere.

Here's some background. On July 11, the Crimson reported that the Harvard police were cutting back on the amount of information they would release to the public -- and thus, by extension, to the paper.

Then, on July 18, the Crimson reported that the police had decided to loosen up a bit, although they were still refusing to release as much information as they had before. Among the forbidden news: reports of attempted suicide and sexual assault.

Suppressing such news would appear to be more about protecting Harvard's image than about any legitimate police function.

As civil-liberties lawyer and Phoenix contributor Harvey Silverglate told the Crimson, "You would think that if they're really professional they would act like real police officers."

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