The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

The rights of individuals vs. freedom of the press

Members of The Cavalier Daily potentially face University Judiciary Committee charges for breaching the confidentiality clause of the Honor Committee, part of the rights of the accused in an honor trial. Their arguments against this charge are two-fold: They are not guilty because they did not reveal the name of the accused, and they cannot be tried anyway because of Article II, Section D in the UJC constitution and, presumably, the First Amendment. To the first point, I would say I agree with The Cavalier Daily. Though there are methods I could use to find out the identity of the student, the members of the managing board were mum about his or her identity.

But their second argument is unpalatable to me. I am a staunch supporter of the freedom of the press. The right to research, report and share opinions should not be censored by any governing body - which is what Art. II, Sec. D seems to guarantee.

What it does not guarantee is a newspaper's privilege to encroach upon an individual's rights. The accused in honor trials have a right to privacy. This is not even the vague right the Supreme Court declared was implied in the Bill of Rights; it is directly expressed in the Honor Committee's constitution, the constitution that The Cavalier Daily members agreed to adhere to when they filed honor charges. As students, they do not have the right to tell their friends about the issue while walking to class, so obviously they cannot put on their Cavalier Daily hats and tell it to the whole school via the paper. If they came upon a list of all the names of pending honor cases, they could not honestly think they had the right to publish it and claim immunity.

In this case, I still think they are blameless. But this is not an issue of free speech. The Cavalier Daily has not uncovered a scandal and faced pressure to keep it quiet. There is some oversight for matters like these, and the jurisdiction for these breaches of University standards falls to the UJC. The rights of a newspaper do not trump the rights of individuals, in the United States or at the University.

Reed Arnold\nCommerce V