This article originally appeared in the Daily Pennsylvanian.
Last week, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) sent students an e-mail with instructions not to discuss or link to WikiLeaks on social networking sites, as such actions could jeopardize future job opportunities—especially with the federal government.
On Monday, however, SIPA’s Dean sent a follow-up e-mail to reverse the warning, asserting that students may discuss things relevant to their studies or roles as global citizens.
“This is not inconsistent with generic advice when you’re applying for a job,” said Director of the Fels Public Policy Internship Program Dierdre Martinez, explaining students need to be very careful about what they put on the internet.
She added that the State Department may view discussion of WikiLeaks online as a reflection of a person’s approach to sensitive data. “If you’re all for the distribution of sensitive data, you might not be the kind of diplomat they want,” she said.
Senior Associate Director of Career Services Barbara Hewitt from the University of Pennsylvania commonly hears stories about individuals either not getting hired or getting fired because of something found on the internet.
She added, though, that Penn wants individuals to be engaged in what’s going on in the world, “even if it’s controversial.”
Many Penn students, like College junior Jim Santel, do just that. In the middle of last week, when the The New York Times was at the height of its WikiLeaks coverage, Santel wrote a commentary about the issue on his blog. He argued that rather than winning a victory of transparency, WikiLeaks is participating in a long and harmful trend of paranoia in American politics.
Santel—who might be interested in pursuing a government job in the future—did not know that posting about WikiLeaks could be potentially harmful to his job prospects. But, even in light of the recent warnings, he plans to leave his post online.
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