Georgetown proposal targets anonymous publications

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A recently proposed addendum tothe speech and expression policy at Georgetown University wouldgive campus officials the ability to confiscate anonymous publications.

The university’s Committee on Speech and Expression draftedthe modification to the policy partially in response to a controversialanonymous publication distributed on campus last spring.

Last spring’s anonymous publication was a satirical replicationof the Georgetown student newspaper, The Hoya, which wastitled, "The Super-Secret Fake Hoya." Some universityofficials were attacked in the publication, sparking debate aboutits appropriateness. University President Leo O’Donovan referredto the content as "hurtful and offensive," in a statementmade in May.

The proposed addition to the policy says anonymous publicationsthat "target identifiable individual members of the universitycommunity may be taken from public distribution places by theVice President."

The policy allows for confiscated works to be "put toeducational use" by the vice president of student affairs.One suggested way the university might use confiscated works inan educational setting is to bring in outside scholars to discussthe issues raised in the publications, according to The Hoya.

The policy acknowledges the value of anonymous and pseudonymouswritings, but then dismisses the benefits saying authors belongingto the Georgetown community "should sooner or later comeforward" once their points have been made.

"In our University context anonymity or pseudonymity shouldbe temporary and tactical," states the new policy.

It is unclear when the proposal will become official policy,but there has already been some opposition on campus concerningthe proposal’s implications. The Georgetown Academy, amonthly independent student magazine at Georgetown, has offeredto print the content of any anonymous work as a way to combatthe proposal.

"As its editor in chief, I commit The Georgetown Academyto republish in our pages the content of any anonymous publication,regardless of its content, ideology or motive, if we determinethat it has been confiscated for its content or aspects of theauthor’s constitutionally protected anonymity," Sabine Callewrote in a letter to The Hoya.