Student Senate member upset with proposed student handbook changes
Freshman Brittney Borges belly dances at the Multicultural Center yesterday morning for Diversity Week. Christopher Barrett
To the Cigar,
As a University of Rhode Island student and member of the committee that is currently reviewing proposed changes to the student handbook, (the student handbook is the document that sets policy for students at the university), it is my duty to inform you that a terrible wrong has been done to the students of the URI through a policy change to the handbook. The change at first glance is an innocuous form under Section 2.3 Privacy part B, but has grave implications for freedom of speech and the ability of university students to hold the university accountable and the quality of life of all students both present and future. The change reads as follows: "b. Publicizing sensitive material or information through use of photos, videos or audio recordings including illegal acts, student handbook violations or acts of violence is prohibited" (change proposed by the office of student conduct, Feb. 29, 2012).
This change is so vaguely written that no one seems to understand the true implications of it, bu here are just some of them: conduct procedures or fines could be brought against a student for taking a picture of a friend skateboarding between classes and then posting it to Facebook, even if charges were not brought against the student who was skateboarding. That's how vaguely written this proposal is, but the implications are far worse. There is potential for the university, if it wished to keep an incident quiet, to bring conduct procedures against all students who posted, liked, shared or commented on a video of anything from an assault to jaywalking, all of which are crimes outlined by either state law or university policy.
The most terrifying of implementations is the potential for reprisals against students who report things to the police that the university administration does not wish to be reported. Here's how that could work; lets say, for example, there is a student who takes a video of something occurring on the campus that the administration does not want to deal with or publicize. Under this policy change, students could be subject to conduct procedures for publicizing the information to the police, the authority whose responsibility it maybe to handle this issue.
This policy change is fundamentally wrong and violates not just students rights, but also civil rights. I am doing my duty by informing you of this impending change. If you have questions, comments or concerns, do not post them on this article because that could be contrived to be a violation of Section 2.3 part B.
This is Kyle Weinreich signing off before I am brought before the conduct board.
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