This week, Philadelphia newspapers broke the story of a University of Pennsylvania student who took a picture of two other students having sex in a window of a dorm room.
The photographer, a junior engineering student, was outside of the building, observing the couple from a walkway, where other people were also gathered to watch. The photograph shows one of the participant’s naked rear end pressed against the glass.
The student photographer, who hasn’t been publicly identified, then posted the pictures on his Penn Web page. They were later posted on collegehumor.com.
The photograph also landed on the cover of the Philadelphia Daily News, and other media outlets carried the story.
Penn officials immediately threatened legal action against the photographer, citing a violation against the privacy rights of the students photographed, and planned a university disciplinary hearing against charges of sexual harassment. This was all to protect the privacy rights of the students who were having sex, in daylight, against a window that faced the street.
After an outcry of Penn students and professors, the school has decided not to punish the photographer. The female student photographed in the carnal position has been identified, and is widely known on Penn’s campus. She has hired a lawyer.
The student’s lawyer, Jordan Koko, said she is considering legal action.
“She is not a public figure, she is not a public personality and she opposes vehemently the publication of her personal information, image and identification,” Koko said.
If she had been so concerned with the publication of her image, she would not have allowed her backside to be exposed to an entire block in West Philadelphia. Perhaps it was the thrill of having people watch her and her partner. Or perhaps she was too caught up in the moment to worry what the consequences of splaying herself against a floor-length window would be.
Regardless, she put herself in a position where she would be seen by a large group of people in all of her naked glory. Although she was in a private residence, she exposed herself to a public audience.
Once she knowingly revealed herself to the public, she lost her right to privacy and must now deal with the consequences of her actions.
We hope that the photographs will serve as a warning to anyone who considers putting their most intimate acts on public display. So, snap away, photographers. Snap away.