Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Harvard Student Newspaper Sues University for Campus Records

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Harvard Student Newspaper Sues University for Campus Records

Article excerpt

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.

Harvard University's student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, filed a lawsuit against the university late last month to gain access to campus police records regarding various incidents. The lawsuit, filed with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, claims that since Harvard police officers have statewide arrest powers, they should be liable to follow state open-record laws.

After three years of frustrated attempts to get police documents on racial profiling, sexual assaults and suicide cases, the students finally decided to take legal action against the campus police force. The Harvard University Police Department (HUPD), unlike most of the private security forces patrolling other colleges and universities around the country, has statewide powers to act against any violation.

Private universities are generally not bound by the state open-records law; however, the newspaper argues, the campus police should be required to release records because officers "possess policing powers unique to public law enforcement agencies."

The Crimson requested reports in June from the HUPD, the Cambridge Police Department and the Boston Police Department regarding specific incidents, including an alleged embezzlement by two Harvard students who confessed to the police. …

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