Fight for your rights

Despite the fact that apparently the Fourth Amendment is no longer applicable on the College’s campus, as exemplified by the actions of Campus Police over the past month, we as students need to exercise our most important inalienable right – the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

The Fourth Amedment of the U.S. Consitution reads ensures that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”

As students of an institution which effectively refuses to adhere to the protections laid out in the U.S. Constitution, we have not only the right but the obligation to speak out and amend the incorrect belief of Campus Police that it is above the law of the land. There have been numerous reports of campus law enforcement officers subjecting students to unreasonable searches and seizures over the past month.

One person with whom I have come in contact informed me that he was arrested for transporting alcoholic beverages on campus a few weeks ago. He told me that he was walking on campus with the alcohol in a duffle bag when he was stopped by an officer on a bike.

After asking the officer on what grounds he was being detained, the officer refused to provide an answer. When the officer asked the student to open the bag, the student refused on the grounds that the officer did not possess probable cause or a search warrant. After he refused to acquiesce to the officer’s request for a second time, the officer went ahead and opened the bag without consent. This student was subsequently charged with possession of alcoholic beverages.

According to the Fourth Amendment, this incident constitutes an egregious violation of a person’s right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures. Campus Police does not possess the unlimited power to take the law into its own hands. It is our civic duty as students of a state institution to publicize and scrutinize this overzealous exercise of unlawful authority by “law enforcement” officials. I put quotations around the term “law enforcement” due to the fact that true law enforcement officers are legally obligated to abide by the laws which they themselves are enforcing.

While I sympathize with the added pressure put on Campus Police to crack down on underage drinking in response to the pending Fiocco lawsuit, I believe that the efforts of Campus Police to obstruct the proliferation of alcohol have been undermined by its own refusal to adhere to the laws of the nation. The College’s students should continue to express their discontent with the way in which Campus Police has responded to the Fiocco tragedy.

Only through voicing our opposition to these illegal abuses of government power can we as students convince the College’s administration that Campus Police must be reprimanded and held accountable for its actions. Walking around at night carrying a duffle bag is not an adequate justification for Campus Police to search your belongings.

Simply carrying a duffle bag is not a circumstance that would lead an officer to believe that a student has violated the law by possessing alcoholic beverages. Law enforcement officials are not infallible; they are restrained by the protections of individual rights laid out in the U.S. Constitution.

The job of Campus Police is to ensure the safety of those residing on campus; it is not to overreact and harass students simply for the purpose of demonstrating their authority. Campus Police, if you wanted to create an atmosphere of fear, anxiety and outright anger on the College’s campus, then congratulations, you have undoubtedly accomplished that. If you do not agree with me that the mood on our campus has grown dismal, just take a leisurely walk around campus late on a Friday night.

Sadly, you will notice that there are just as many police as students roaming the campus at this time of night. My fellow students, I once again urge you to continue to speak out against the egregious violations of our Fourth Amendment rights which have been occurring over the past month.

Inaction will not serve as a vehicle for change. Only through the exercise of our First Amendment rights can we as students urge Campus Police to once again respect the Fourth Amendment.

Steve Morris

Roaches, earwigs, silverfish, oh my!

As I look at the College’s new library, I cannot help but marvel at its pristine beauty. Then, as I am doing a sweep of the building, I see a group study room with a spread of KFC on one of the tables. I know and they know that there is no food allowed beyond the caf?, but perhaps they do not know why. Please allow me to explain.

Flash back to the Roscoe L. West Library circa 2003. The place was a dump. No one ever came to the Roscoe L. West Library. Though I was partial to it, it was dirty. Seriously dirty. Dirty with bugs. Silverfish, earwigs, roaches. How could a library have such an infestation of vermin? The answer: food.

A long time ago, people stopped trying to keep food out. I suppose they just got fed up. Maybe it was after they found the slice of pizza used as a bookmark. Maybe it was the empty cans of beer. Perhaps it was after the volume of silverfish outnumbered the number of books. The bugs were no joke.

The reason there are people standing at the caf? and walking the floors is because we are trying to prevent the same thing from happening to this building. Did you know that every year, we lose 2 percent of the collection due to damage caused by food products?

I know it may seem like a major inconvenience, but it is for your own good. Do you really want to be reading or napping and wake up to a roach crawling on you? It’s happened. Do you want to be in the stacks reaching for a book on the top shelf and have a silverfish fall on you?

The next time you think about sneaking food into the library and leaving the wrappers behind as evidence to your insubordination, think about the bugs.

Nina Davidson