Letter to the Editor: UMN honors legal and moral obligations for student privacy

by Matt Kramer

Ellen Schneider badly missed the mark with her opinion piece on recent allegations against a Carlson School of Management Doctor of Business Administration student. In fact, the piece shows a lack of understanding for what federal law, the criminal justice system and University policies require in any instance of alleged sexual misconduct – so much so that it several times calls on the University to take actions that would be illegal, or at minimum would be a violation of University policy.

First, contrary to her claims, the University has publicly acknowledged that the accused individual is a University student, that leaders are aware of the accusations and have a high level of concern about them and that the University is responding appropriately to them. Beyond such an acknowledgement, the University is required by federal law to protect the privacy of all parties involved. Further, all of us, including Ms. Schneider, should appreciate the privacy interests of all involved in such circumstances, including those of victims.

While Ms. Schneider demands the University “confirm whether or not Liu is guilty,” in any matter involving sexual misconduct, we must allow the court system or our own process to complete their work before passing judgment or drawing any conclusions. The University also has strong programs and services in place to assist any student dealing with sexual misconduct. Despite her accusations to the contrary, University leaders have rolled out an aggressive systemwide initiative to prevent sexual misconduct that involves: 

  • New policies approved by the Board of Regents.
  • New training that every employee of the University of Minnesota is required to complete, on top of student trainings that were already in place.
  • An “It Ends Here” public information campaign that launched Sept. 10 on the Twin Cities campus. This effort, created and coordinated with student associations, is designed to address the scourge that sexual misconduct is.

Make no mistake, there is no place for sexual misconduct at the University of Minnesota. We do not tolerate it and will not accept it. This administration will be relentless in pursuing any and all allegations that disrupt the success of our faculty, our staff and our students. We must (and will) work within the confines of state and federal law, but we will not be complacent in protecting all who work or study at this great institution.

Matt Kramer is the University of Minnesota’s Vice President of University Relations.