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, freenorthwestern.blogspot.com, 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

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