We at the Campus Times produce a paper each week, secure in the knowledge that we are able to express ideas and opinions without having our privacy violated. Recently, students of Whittier College did not find themselves as lucky.
On Thursday, Feb. 21, an electronic eavesdropping device was found in their student newspaper office. This is the first discovery of a listening device at a college newspaper.
At Whittier – Richard Nixon’s alma mater – a maintenance worker found the surveillance device, which can transmit signals within a three-mile radius.
The device was imbedded in an electrical outlet located near where staff meetings usually take place.
The device was hardwired into the electrical system, meaning that someone could have potentially used the device for a lengthy time. According to California law, installation of a bug in a private area is illegal, and this is with good reason.
One of the most important aspects of journalism is the free exchange of ideas, which can be fairly reported and presented to the public. Fair and accurate reporting allows readers to make their own opinions regarding current events and occurrences of which they might not have previously known.
The discovery of a listening device in a newspaper office sets a scary precedent for infringing on both the right of free speech and the free exchange of ideas. Allowing someone access to private conversations is not only illegal – it’s unethical. Not only is this a violation of the rights of a free press, but also the rights of human beings entitled to privacy.
The right to disseminate speech is one that should be valued and protected. As citizens of a country that allows a free press, we are all truly fortunate to be able to express, debate and challenge ideas. Cherish this value, and support all newspapers’ desire to inform and enlighten the public.