Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Another Horror Story

A story submitted by an anonymous student. So much for counting on the support of student affairs...

I've had a couple personal experiences with the NU bureaucratic regime. One of my best friends suffered for over a year at the hands of Mary Desler - after a single drunken arrest incident he was suspended from school for the winter and spring quarters, during which he was forced to work a bullshit job instead of continuing his studies and being allowed to graduate on time. The following summer his punishment continued, he was mandated to an outpatient drug rehab program; the others inthe program were not NU students, rather, hardcore alcoholics and drug abusers. Following his completion of this six week program, his registration was *still not* cleared until the winter quarter - after which he had to bust his ass taking four difficult courses per quarter in order to graduate. Thankfully, he's doing well, but does not have particularly kind feelings for NU student affairs.

My own experience takes a different line - I was diagnosed with clinical depression in the winter of last year and I had to leave school. To get a tuition refund for my winter quarter enrollment, I took a medical leave through CAPS. However, while I was going through the worst of times, CAPS did little to help me beside recommending that I leave school. This was precisely the thing I was trying to avoid! Thank whatever gods for my family and friends - CAPS is a far way, in my opinion, from actually helping students in real crises. When I returned to Evanston in the summer, healed, and feeling good - I discovered that I would not be allowed to reapply for student status until two weeks before fall quarter - mind you, I was *not* previously informed of this; I had expected to be able to take summer courses, or at least have a valid WildCard.

At the end of summer I sent an e-mail to Mary Desler - she told me that tho' I might think I am ready to return, it was 'highly unlikely' that they would let me back in; apparently I had not followed all of their recommendations. (If you break your leg and after a long process it is fully healed, do the doctors reprimand you for not following every piece of their advice? No. They are happy that you are better.) Not so in this case, they were peeved...but it all depended on an evaluation meeting with a CAPS doctor whom I had never met and knew anything of my case. 'Highly Unlikely' : How is that for support? It crushed my optimism. I needed to get back in to school to graduate. After this meeting, in which I felt certainly interrogated, I was left in the dark for another week, unsure if I they would let me back in - Tho' I was sure that if they didn't I would feel that all the personal steps I had taken and barriers overcome had been for nothing. After a week of waiting I took the initiative and walked-into Desler's office; she said that she had just gotten the notice from CAPS and the ball was in now her court.

She sat me down and said that I had problems...real problems with drugs and alcohol!...she did not speak of my depression (which is why I voluntarily left in the first place) had come to light through the correspondence of several doctors that I may be a marijuana user. She said she would lift the hold on my registration but, in doing so, was going to place me under a Disciplinary Probation - if I violate NU drug/alcohol policies I am to be placed under indefinite suspension. Mind you, I've never had an official violation, I have a clean record, so this is not the normal procedure. Yet I was forced to accept this bullshit, and even thank her for it! My joy at being "let back in school" outweighed my dismay so I took it in stride - but I don't believe its right. It is essentially a suspension of habeas corpus - underhanded and unofficial - but I must accept it because Mary Desler has the power to kick me out of school. It must be noted that others besides partying frats are victims.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Northwestern is Absurd

Its hard to believe the administration has stooped to a new low. Apparently the articles published in the last week have struck a cord with somebody, because NU has gotten down right petty. I shit you not, 'somebody' reported to the Evanston housing authority that they suspected we had overcrowding problems in our house. I am writing no less than five minutes after the inspector walked out the door, AFTER FINDING NO ISSUES!!!

All he could tell me was that the University reported this concern to his boss.

I didn't realize things could get this juvenile, that they are attempting some sort of retaliation after we exercise our freedom of speech and speak out against administration tactics.

The action they took only further validates our argument, and reveals their tactics in their true light.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Join the Movement

This is your blog. Unfortunately, you can only add content directly to the site via the comments sections but if you want to write an article, send it to and we'll post it.

We want you to write:
-stories from your experiences with the administration
-thought on the current state of affairs at NU
-suggestions for improvement
-comments about the blog
-anything else concerning Northwestern

Overcome complacency and get involved in the fight to secure freedom for yourself and your community.

Post your Complaints

Do you have a complaint concerning the student affairs branch of the administration?
Do you feel like your rights have been violated by the NUPD or EPD?
Do you feel like you have been treated harshly or unfairly by those in power?

Post your story in the comments section.
This is ammunition for our fight.
Voice your opinion.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Do Something

Complacency is the first sign. When the people lose their voice,
that's when it begins to go downhill. I am starting to see it all
around me. Unchecked power. No accountability. Lack of transparency.
Intimidation. Oppression.

The only way to combat this is through action. One action isn't
enough. One flutter of the pulse or cringe of the brow or shred of
understanding will not effect change. Concepts of freedom need to
pervade the student body. We need a forum to discuss these issues and
a collaborative tool to catalyze real change at this school.

Sometimes people, businesses, governments and even universities lose
their way. They forget about the ideals upon which they were founded.
They forget about the people they are supposed to support and their
reason for existence.

Sometimes they need a reminder. People to stand up for their rights.
Raise their voice. Act.

Now is that time.

This is the first step towards a declaration of students' rights and a
self-authored statement condemning the state of student affairs at NU.
Our grievances do not lie with academia, but rather with the
administrators who are patronizing, disingenuous and militant towards
the student body.

The following is a working list of grievances. Please submit your own
grievances to our Web site,, and we'll
use them to create a declaration of student freedom and eventually a
self-chartered student bill of rights.

1) NU is an institution of learning. This includes social and moral
growth, not just intellectual growth. Social and moral learning needs
to come from within, rather than imposed through outward pressure.

2) The administration should remember that they were once in college
as well. Allow us the right of responsible self-governance that you
once had in your college experience.

3) Secrecy should be removed from all judicial hearings. Archaic
practices need to be revised and opened up. UHAS is a flawed system.
The student handbook implores conciliation instead of resolving
matters in a hearing. Conciliation implies guilt without the chance to
prove innocence. In a free and open society, why are members and
findings kept secret? How many appeals have been successful in UHAS'
38-year history?

4) The double standard of the NUPD should be eliminated. They enforce
petty citations against NU students throughout Evanston and stress
crime prevention, but if an actual crime is committed against
off-campus students, it is outside their jurisdiction.

5) NU believes it is above federal and state law. If an issue is
dismissed by NUPD or EPD, what right does the school have to mete our
punishment when authorities have concluded that nothing occurred?

6) The bureaucracy of NU is not infallible. Question authority when it
becomes oppressive. Reexamine where you are directing the independent
thinking you are supposedly learning to do.

Unlike many of our current administrative policies, these ideas are
open for negotiation. And right now, they are just ideas. Without the
student body recognizing them or questioning them, they have no power.
We can reform things we feel are unjust in the world around us, but
the powers that be have neglected to inform us of our rights.

Free Northwestern is a debate forum, intellectual movement and
instrument of student-led change. Controversy has shrouded the
interaction between the Northwestern administration and the student
body. While Northwestern exists as a private institution, infringement
on student freedom is a topic that must be addressed. I hope that this
can be a means to student empowerment in all forms, and a catalyst
towards improvement.

-Max Ostrove

Monday, October 15, 2007

Our Fight

One of the oldest tactics of authoritarian regimes is to divide the enemy into different subsections. Do not let them do this. We are all students at Northwestern. Some of us are Greek, some of us aren't; some of us drink, others don't, but we all share the same amount of freedoms under this administration and that makes the fight for student freedom OUR fight.

"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right." Thomas Paine's introduction to Common Sense reveals the administrations favorite tactic. They want you to think that their rules are unquestionable and that they exist to rule us, not to serve us. They achieve this goal using fear of punishment, whether its by soiling your transcript or sending you to Student Affairs, the Dean, or the secretive UHAS panel. When you forget you hold the power, you start to think solely within their system. "I'm a good student. I only break the rules occasionally and discretely. Hopefully I won't be the one they chose to make an example out of." We don't need to think this way anymore. We need to empower ourselves.

Personal freedom goes hand in hand with empowerment, empowerment leads to creativity, productivity and more empowerment. Suppression, on the other hand, leads to the feeling of powerlessness, then fear, adversity to risk, and more powerlessness. Why aren't there more student run businesses at NU? Why aren't we more politically active or more outspoken? Why isn't student government more powerful? Why do so many of us feel vulnerable and fearful of the administration? These are all examples of the lack of student empowerment at this school. Simplifying this issue to "Let us drink" hides the real significance of the debate over UHAS, Mary Desler and repressive policies focused on how we spend our free time. The administration doesn't think we can make good decisions about our own lives, our community or our university

When we choose to act responsibly (abstaining from drinking, partying or neglecting our studies) those are our own personal victories and they strengthen our character. When we are all coerced into doing those things out of fear instead of will power, we lose those victories and they become the university's. Naturally, we tend to rebel against the authority that tries to define our personal victories as products of their own tactics instead of our own rational decisions. Your achievements are your own, and so are your failures.

Freedom isn't as popular as you think. It puts a lot of pressure on people because their failure to act appropriately is their failure alone. Some people don't trust themselves to make good decisions (or at least learn from their bad ones). Others want their own moral codes imposed on 'the masses' because of their elitist mentalities. Furthermore when people are free, there is less individual power to hoard, so those in positions of authority support the concept in theory but not practice.

Freedom isn't free. We have to fight for it. If the administration continues to act heavy-handedly in cases concerning how students spend their free time, there will be protests; but there is so much more to do. We're fighting for a culture of freedom and empowerment. Start a student run business; make a public speech somewhere unexpected; display some experimental art; start questioning administration policies and look at their long term implications. Most importantly, fight for your right to live as you chose because only you can make yourself happy.

Devin Balkind


I have a message for the administration: if you don't have faith in us, we won't have faith in you. Don't bother asking me for money in the future.


Join the debate. Participate in the movement at