Aletho News


US: Student Rights Disappearing

Staff Writers | October 1, 2012

In the aftermath of 9/11, we’ve seen plenty of attacks on privacy and personal security, and students are not immune to this effect. From RFID tracking to mandatory drug and pregnancy testing, new laws and policies are slowly beginning to creep in and take over the privacy that students have enjoyed in the past. We’ve discovered nine troubling signs that student rights are in danger. If these can slip by, what’s coming next?

Some students are required to wear IDs:

At Northeast Mississippi Community College, students are required to keep their NEMCC ID badge in plain sight at all times or face warnings and tickets. The administration’s primary reason for the IDs is safety, but the policy raises privacy concerns for students, who cannot opt out of the program. Northeast Mississippi isn’t the only school adopting student IDs, and some are going so far as to include RFID in their IDs to assist with attendance records. Experts believe that this could become a trend in American schools, but some parents are outraged. In at least one elementary school, the push back has been so extreme that the RFID program was terminated due to privacy concerns.

Students are required to share their contact information with the Armed Forces:

High school students are automatically signed up to share their contact information with the Armed Forces, presumably for recruiting purposes. This is a part of the No Child Left Behind law, and although students can opt out, the parent or student must explicitly request otherwise. Releasing student contact information is viewed as a serious violation of student privacy.

Mandatory drug testing is becoming more prevalent:

Linn State Technical college, a small technical school with just 1,200 students, has become the first university in the country to make drug testing mandatory for enrollment. Every new student at LSTC is required to take a urine test within their first five to 10 days of the school year, or withdraw from the university. Students are also subject to random testing throughout the rest of the year. The university community has pushed back, asserting that mandatory drug testing is too much of an invasion, setting a dangerous precedent for the ability of schools to regulate students’ lives.

Pregnancy testing is also a concern:

In one Louisiana public school, female students who are suspected of being pregnant must submit to a pregnancy test. If they refuse to take the test or are found to be pregnant, they’re kicked out of school and forced to pursue homeschooling instead. This policy is in clear violation of federal law, specifically, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 that mandates schools can’t exclude students based on pregnancy or related conditions. But it’s not just this one school with a problematic policy: the ACLU evidence suggests that illegal discrimination is a major contributing factor to the high dropout rate (70%) of teen girls who give birth.

Educational records can be shared with outside entities:

Schools are privy to lots of sensitive information about their students, including grades, discipline records, income, and even mental health issues. This is the sort of information that most families would prefer to keep private, but new rules allow it to be shared with entities outside the scope of education. That means student information can be placed in state databases without the consent of students and parents.

Students can be monitored via wiretaps:

The FCC has recently released a campaign that is forcing universities to comply with national wiretapping laws. This means that universities are altering their private networks and the Internet in order to allow for monitoring of Internet usage, instant messaging, and even cell phone texts. Additionally, these mandates allow universities to be subpoenaed for medical and other student records. Previously, universities were exempted from wiretapping due to their private networks, but following the 2001 terrorist attacks the Department of Justice asked the FCC to expand their reach.

Schools are blocking student access to LGBT websites:

Blocking pornographic websites is a common practice among public schools, but some are taking things a step further, blocking access to LGBT websites that are not at all pornographic. Many of the commonly used web filtering software packages block out LGBT-positive websites that share information about LGBT issues and organizations. These packages do not, however, block out anti-LGBT websites that condemn LGBT people and encourage them to change their sexual orientation. The ACLU has argued that this “viewpoint discrimination” violates students’ rights under the First Amendment.

Free speech is getting edged out:

On many college campuses, free speech is dramatically limited. Campuses typically have a “free speech zone,” but at some schools, this zone is in a low traffic area so far from the heart of campus that it’s not an ideal location to share messages. At other schools, free speech can be limited to certain days or hours, and even give administrators the right to review and approve of materials before they’re shared. For some students pursuing free speech, these restrictions can keep them from effectively sharing their message. Specifically, at Yuba College in California, students had to apply for permission to speak 14 business days in advance, register literature 48 hours prior to distribution, and are limited to the hours of 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for public speeches, extreme measures for any student or group wanting to spread the word about their issue.

Student due process rights are being threatened:

It’s not hard to understand why many college campuses take a hard line on rape, but it’s important to remember that accused rapists have rights, too. Under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, it was proposed that universities receiving federal funding must allow sexual assault victims to appeal the results of college disciplinary hearings. That means that students accused of sexual assault could be tried twice for the same crime, a “double jeopardy” situation that is not allowed in U.S. courts. This is troublesome and an unfortunate way for presumably innocent accused rapists to be held back from moving on with their lives.

October 2, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Not on the Other Side of the Wall

Another Israeli wall, another ghetto. (Tamar Fleishman)
By Ruth Fleishman | Palestine Chronicle | June 7, 2012

‘Jerusalem Day’ was celebrated this year, marking forty five years of occupation.

About a third of the city’s residents are excluded from the celebrations, speeches and promises that speak of: “(Jerusalem) forever and always…freedom of religion… equality…” and other such hollow catchphrases. In addition, and much more importantly, those same residents aren’t granted their civil rights. Ever since the creation of the metropolis sphere called: “Greater Jerusalem”, which is the result of the intention to annex as much territory as possible with as few residents as possible, the basic rights of three hundred and sixty thousand Palestinians living in it, are not recognized. The city that had stretched its body like a spring up to the end of its reach, extending to the outskirts of Ramallah, has left the Palestinians who reside within it discriminated against by the actual classification given to them. Their blue identity card doesn’t provide them with citizenship (due to the ideology to preserve the Jewish majority), but only permanent residency, which in spite of the title doesn’t ensure them permanence as it might be removed through biased legislation or whim of the Minister of Internal Affairs.

Residency provides freedom of movement and a better health care than that which Palestinians without blue IDs receive. According to the figures of the non-profit organization “Ir Amim”, it appears that a higher percentage of Palestinians pay their municipal taxes with respect to the rest of the residents, for fear that they might lose their status and relative rights, and as a result get evicted. The list of discrimination towards the non-Jewish residents of the capital city includes an educational system that does not meet reasonable standards, inadequate and poor infrastructure in the neighborhoods populated by the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, the partial freedom for performing religious rituals of the Muslims, which on numerous occasions hadn’t been granted to them or that is limited by age restrictions applying to the attendance at their place of worship, discrimination on the issuing of construction permits on Palestinian lands and their automatic classification by the planning authorities as “green” zones (another method for preserving the Jewish numerical advantage), the disinheritance of property, the demolition of homes, and perhaps  the draconian of it all is the “citizenship law”, which under the mantra of security prevents people from living with his/her partner and their children, sentencing them to physical and mental alienation.

The Palestinians (women as well as men) that have proven themselves “clean” without any room for doubt, that have no “history” and that hadn’t been caught throwing stones or protesting, not even in their youth which was decades ago, even then, only after arriving at the age of thirty five and after having to run about, to make pleas and to deal with exhausting bureaucracy they would (perhaps) receive what is known as: “a temporary permit to stay under family reunion” – such a long name for an evil procedure.

The few lucky ones that meet all the criteria and break the walls of bureaucracy, those that hadn’t been turned down by the  “SHABAK” (GSS) or the messengers of the minister of internal affairs, they too, who had received a permit to live in their own home among their family, have no insurance regarding the duration of this daily routine. A permit is temporary and might expire or be taken at any given time. Its owner must go back and beg for his life every few months in order to renew and re-validate his right. Even the number of months between each visit isn’t fixed, it changes from one person to the other and from one case to the other.

Uncertainty, intimidation and the evoking of the sense of constant persecution are among the efficient tools used by the mechanisms of occupation. They all transform the individual into a perpetual captive in the hand of the representatives of the secret services, his future is unknown since those sitting inside the chambers, that are kept out of sight deciding his fate, owe no explanations.

But all this is over shadowed by the reality in which lives of the Palestinians that were unfortunate to have their homes remain on the wrong side of the separation wall, the residents of the towns and neighborhoods on the main road leading to Ramallah. The wall that rose upwards, had not only infringed on the rights and quality of life of human beings, but cut through the urban sequence and sorely damaged the urban vitality.

The people whose homes face the back of the wall are the big victims of the intentional discriminatory policy of the leaders of the country and the municipality of Jerusalem.

It is important that we focus our attention toward these dark places, because while they are disconnected from the city that is the center of their lives, they are also disconnected from the attention of the public.

Up until a couple of years ago it would have taken these people only a few minutes to reach their educational institutions, their work places, clinics and hospitals, and since finding themselves, against their own will, imprisoned behind the wall, upon leaving their homes they can never know when and if they are going to arrive at their destination.

A woman I know from the neighborhood Dahiat-Al-Barid told me how she must wake her children up before sunrise so that they arrive at their school in East Jerusalem on time. Unfortunately for her the dark side of the wall boarders with her home, and therefore she and the members of her family are disconnected from their relatives and source of income- a business in the ancient city.

The freedom of movement is restricted. Indeed, their vehicles have yellow plates, as they are in Israel, but unlike the Jewish citizens, they are forced to go through strict and time consuming inspections at the checkpoint. Only those who are first-degree relatives are allowed to stay in the vehicle when passing the checkpoint (a spouse, parent, child), the relatives that aren’t indicated in the identity cards or friends, are ordered to walk through the pedestrian checkpoint. The ill and injured, who have insurance according to the Israeli law and are taken care of in hospitals that are located in the western side of the city, are forced to go through the tiring procedure known as “back-to-back”, which includes the authorization of the permits center- meaning, the GSS. And a vile stench rises from the fact that the residents of these areas, that are part of the jurisdiction of the municipality of Jerusalem, don’t receive fundamental services such as waste collection and are forced to deal with the mountains of trash that pile up by lighting bonfires on the side of the roads and inside trash containers.

Like their brothers who live nearby- at Qalandiya refugee camp which is located between the two villages Kufer-Akeb and Samir-Ramis, where many of the residents have residency cards- their place of residence has become a no man’s land, they suffer not only from the neglect of the infrastructure, but also from the loss of the sense of security, since neither the Israeli police nor the Palestinian are present and impose order.

Those who are frequently there, especially during the wee hours of the night, are the soldiers who invade their homes and hunt down people and children.

And in the middle, between the residents of Jerusalem and the checkpoint, is the refugee camp with the tens of thousands that reside within it, like a bone in Israel’s throat-  unwilling to swallow it and unable to vomit.

(Translated by Ruth Fleishman.)

June 10, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Not on the Other Side of the Wall