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Article about SLF in the Triangle!

by Naomi Parikh

Student Rights Week aimed to educate Drexel University students about their rights through multiple events and speakers from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2.

Held by the Student Liberty Front, the weeklong events included speakers from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia public defender and a movie night.

Stacy Litz, president of the Student Liberty Front, said the group felt many students were “apathetic” about their rights, so the week’s primary goal was to educate them.

“Students do not realize how much of their lives are controlled by government and how important it is to know their rights,” Litz, a pre-junior political science major, said. “It is hard to get people to wake up, especially at Drexel, [where] students are so busy with class, work, extracurriculars.”

Pericles Niarchos, a junior double majoring in history and political science, said many students think of college campuses as free and uninhibited, but many colleges actually try to conform students to some ideology.

“A lot of students come to campus thinking they have full freedom of thought, freedom of speech, but a lot of times students are criticized for less popular ideas,” Niarchos said. “We want students to know they do have rights.”

Niarchos also said colleges sometimes use certain codes or rules in the wrong way, to punish students for speaking out.

“Colleges have a code of conduct that they want students to follow,” Niarchos said. “But all we want is for the colleges themselves to also follow that same code.”

Luke Sheahan, the director of the Campus Freedom Network for FIRE, said FIRE speakers want to educate students on this very issue.

“We want to let students know about the threats to their freedoms on campus and what they can do to protect them,” Sheahan said. “It’s frightening how far some universities are willing to go to force conformity.”

According to Litz, event attendance has been small, with about 15 people per event, but she added that interest in SLF has grown, especially among incoming freshmen.

“We had 45 people come out to the first meeting … we had a lot of really interested new incoming freshmen, which was awesome,” Litz said. “In regards to students’ rights, we discussed mainly, in particular, speech codes, police violations (search and seizures), drinking age, drug war [and] private versus public universities,” Litz said.

She added that once students attend one event, they usually come back to learn more and show more interest in the student organization, as well.

“I have seen interest in the students who have come out to our events simply by seeing how they keep coming out to our events,” Litz said. “If they keep coming out, we know they’re interested. We rarely get anyone who just comes out to one event. Usually they’re hooked right away to these ideas.”

SLF will also be hosting Freedom Watch Oct. 28, which will include Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Fox News Channel’s Judge Andrew Napolitano.

“It’s going to be huge, and it’s getting Drexel and the Student Liberty Front on the liberty map,” Litz said.

Litz said SLF has grown over the past six months, with funding from the Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee, outside organizations and private donors.

“Our campus presence has grown a lot, [and] I would say we’re the most active political organization and one of the only political philosophy organizations that doesn’t stick to one political party,” Litz said.

Drexel was given a “yellow” speech code rating on FIRE’s Web site.

“Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application,” the site stated.

This is the first year SLF held Student Rights Week at Drexel.

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