The Office of Career Services at Columbia University’s School of International and Political Affairs emailed students this week to say that a SIPA alum working at the State Department wanted them to know that posting or discussing Wikileaks documents on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter could jeopardize their chances of getting work with the federal government in the future.
Going further, an assistant dean at Boston University’s law school contacted students there to let them know that even reading Wikileaks cables could “be seen as a violation of Executive Order 13526,” and thus imperil federal employment. After warning them — in all caps — not to post links or comments on the documents online, she helpfully reminded them that “polygraphs are conducted for the highest levels of security clearance.”
Update | You’re gonna love this. Gary Sick, a senior faculty member at Columbia’s SIPA, has blogged about Wikileaks twice in the last week. Both blogposts discussed the contents of the leaked cables, and one even linked to the cablegate archive — the same archive that the university has warned students not to discuss. But wait, it gets better: SIPA’s own website currently includes a prominent link to Sick’s blog.
Second Update | Here’s a post from a student-run blog at SIPA eviscerating the school for warning students not to discuss Wikileaks. Key quote: “Seriously, SIPA? … You claim to provide committed students with the necessary skills and perspectives to become responsible leaders. Apparently that means curtailing their academic freedom and teaching them how to bury their heads in the sand.”
Third Update | A State Department spokesman tells the Huffington Post that the department has “given no advice to anyone beyond the State Department to my knowledge.” On the other hand, the Columbia SIPA email credited “a SIPA alumnus who is working at the State Department” for the advice.
December 7 Update | Columbia’s School of International and Political Studies has repudiated the advice in the email. Says Dean John Coatsworth: “SIPA’s position is that students have a right to discuss and debate any information in the public arena that they deem relevant to their studies or to their roles as global citizens, and to do so without fear of adverse consequences.” Even better, SIPA professor Gary Sick — whose blogposts on Wikileaks I noted above — says that any international relations SIPA student who hasn’t “gone looking for the [Wikileaks] documents that relate to their area of study” doesn’t “deserve to be a graduate student in international relations.”