Leave it to the Jury

It doesn’t read “We, the Jury” under the Basement Medicine masthead. It’s a Bob Dylan quote. In the spirit of that quote, today we’re on the pavement thinking about confidentiality.

The issue of confidentiality has been all too evident on the Johnson State College campus.

It’s been as frustrating for students as it must have been for faculty, staff, and the administrators forced to brandish the confidentiality shield. Students have even expressed a sense of fear and alienation — as one put it, they no longer feel like there’s a “safe zone.”

In this case, confidentiality may well have been invoked with the best of intentions. Administrators and union officials alike aim to protect privacy and reputations, to buy time to organize information in a clearer, more accurate way.

But confidentiality has consequences, often leaving people to fill in the blanks. By the time the whole story is released, people may already have written it and the results may only partially reflect the truth.

The lack of information regarding allegations against Professor Wiseman and their resolution is not serving the JSC community. Some people have already made up their minds as to what happened, what didn’t, and who’s to blame. Some people have decided JSC didn’t correctly act, and some people have decided JSC is not safe. None of these facts are true; none of these facts are false. Because none of these are facts: those remain hostage behind the firewall of confidentiality.

Basement Medicine is not interested in trial-by-media or exclusives. In a rush to publish, reputations on all sides, along with the truth, are too often casualties. A rush to publish can be a rush to judgment.

We’ll leave that to a jury.