Room With a View

A Penn engineering junior who photographed a couple having sex against a high-rise dormitory window, and then posted the images on his web page, found himself facing sexual-harassment and other charges last fall when one of the photographed students filed a complaint against him.

Penn’s Office of Student Conduct (OSC) later dropped the charges, which included misuse of University electronic resources, but not before the case generated its share of punning headlines (“Ivy League Grind: It’s the Naked Truth” blared the front page of Philadelphia Daily News) and an offer to represent the accused by Dr. Alan Kors, a Penn history professor well known for his civil-libertarian views.

“If a student at Penn does not have the right to take a photograph of what is in plain sight ... then you have no rights,” Kors told The Daily Pennsylvanian. Kors likened the case to the high-profile “water buffalo” incident in 1993, when Penn charged a student with racial harassment. He called for a University probe of the OSC, describing its operations as “unfair, capricious, and arbitrary,” but Penn President Amy Gutmann said there was “no basis for an investigation.”

The amorous couple allegedly had had sex in the window of Hamilton College House on repeated occasions before the photographer caught them in his lens viewfinder. Neither party’s face was discernible.

In a statement released in early December, the University criticized “the wide dissemination of the intimate photos in a manner and to the extent that subjected another member of the Penn community to embarrassment and ridicule” and expressed hope that the photographer would apologize.


©2006 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 01/05/06




Jan|Feb 06 Contents
Gazette Home
Previous issue’s column