Do students admitted through clout deserve privacy?

_Editor’s Note: In Point Counter Point, two columnists tackle a topical issue by offering their opinions on the matter._

h2. Thirst for revenge does not justify public exposure of clout scandal beneficiaries

*Jason Febrey,*

Opinions Columnist

This past week, I found myself in the unique position of defending the University’s actions in the wake of the clout scandal.

First, some background: As has been reported, the University and the Chicago Tribune met in court Sept. 30 to argue over the legality of releasing the names of students admitted under the “Category I” list.

The Chicago Tribune argued for the release of the clout candidates in the name of transparency and accountability. The University disagreed, pointing to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as evidence that such information could not be lawfully released without the consent of the students in question.

On this issue, I side with the University. There are only a few narrow exceptions under which schools can disclose information regarding a student’s records without written permission: financial aid applications, educational accreditation, juvenile justice systems, school officials with a legitimate educational interest, or when students transfer to another school.

When it comes to the records of the clout candidates, justice demands that we rely on the laws that were on the books at the time of their initial application — not a re-written or re-interpreted set that appeals to political convenience rather than original intent.

Think what you will about the lingering damage clout did to the University’s reputation — I think the scandal was one of the darker moments in recent decades — but don’t let a desire for retribution cloud common sense.

We can discuss the merits of releasing the names until we are blue in the face. But the fact is, while FERPA provides a list of conditions under which schools can disclose students’ academic information, revenge and transparency are not among them.

_Jason is a senior in Engineering and Business._

h2. Transparency by media imperative to uphold tenability in admissions processes

*Ryan Weber,*

Opinions Columnist

Sometimes called the “fifth branch” of government (following Congress, the President, the Supreme Court and the bureaucracy), the media is largely responsible for ensuring public officials are kept in line. One of the media’s duties is to keep public institutions as transparent as possible for citizens.

One such example of ensuring this transparency is the Chicago Tribune’s pursuit of the names of the students on the “Category I” list admitted to the University.

The University has for the most part righted most of their wrongs, such as firing administrators involved. They have not fixed, however, the fact that there are hundreds of students who were enrolled unfairly.

Students all across the state apply to this university because of its reputation as a world-class institution. Some of the top companies in the world come to recruit new employees because they know that students here are some of the best at what they do.

They worked hard to get in here, and they continue that same work ethic in their coursework here. Then there are those students who simply needed someone to make a phone call, and they were accepted, regardless of what they did in high school.

Admissions under clout are not uncommon among private schools, but this is a public university funded by the government.

As long as it is a governmental institution, it must be legitimized by transparency because it ensures the utmost honesty.

Taxpayers deserve to know because they effectively pay for these students’ education. Employers should see the information because they should be able to recruit from the University confidently knowing they are hiring the best, not the specially privileged. Students should know who unfairly sits next to them in class in the spot of someone who actually deserved it.

The wrongs of the University cannot be fully reconciled until all of the scandal is laid out on the table.

_Ryan is a sophomore in LAS._