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VN’s Kenyon on Freshman

The Valley News’ columnist Jim Kenyon has picked up on this space’s story on the persecution of the Freshman. Some excerpts:

Hanover Police Play NSA on Underage Drinking

The war — it’s gone beyond a mere obsession — on underage drinkers has reached a new level of absurdity in Hanover. Last week, Joe Asch, the Dartmouth alum who writes the popular Dartblog, broke a story that makes me wonder whether the NSA has opened a surveillance office in town.

After reading Asch’s blog, I picked up a copy of the Hanover police report, which is public record, that gave details of the incident. It’s worse than I had imagined. The college’s security officers and some other employees have effectively become agents of the Hanover police…

…Kett, the Dartmouth employee who called police, was kind enough to talk with me for a few minutes when I dropped by her office. I was curious: Has Dartmouth deputized its 3,000 employees to assist Hanover police with their efforts to corral underage drinkers? Has the college formed a neighborhood bar watch? If professors see underage students drinking at a restaurant (as Kett did) are they under orders to report it to police?

Kett assured me that she had acted on her own. “This was a personal thing,” she said. “It wasn’t part of my job.”

Justin Anderson, the college’s spokesman, also told me that employees are not required or encouraged to snitch (my word, not his) on students who may be drinking illegally. “It’s not part of the college’s culture to call police,” he said.

Anderson explained that Kett, who has worked at the college for eight years, has access to some personal information on students for “work-related reasons.” Not all employees, including himself, have that access, he said.

Federal law allows some information, such as name and age, to be released without a student’s permission, Anderson said. But was it appropriate for Kett to give police a student’s date of birth? Should college employees volunteer student information they acquire in a medical setting to the police? Was it appropriate to allow the student to be interrogated when police thought he needed to be in the infirmary as a precaution?

“Dartmouth is obviously aware of the situation and has been investigating the matter for some time to determine the underlying facts,” Anderson said.

What will Phil do?

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