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Professors unite against PATRIOT with own Act

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Are you ready for the SAFE Act?

Professors unite against PATRIOT with own Act

By Nikki Swink

Sundial Staff

The American Association of University Professors has endorsed an act that would counter certain practices allowed by the USA PATRIOT Act. The Safety and Freedom Ensured Act, a bipartisan initiative aimed at limiting the scope of the USA PATRIOT Act, was introduced by Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.).

The AAUP established a special committee on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks that is designed to protect academic freedoms. The committee’s task is to evaluate the threats to academic freedom and free inquiry posed by the government’s reaction to the attacks. The committee concentrates on provisions of the PATRIOT Act that were passed just one month after the attacks.

The PATRIOT Act is a 342-page proposal that increases the powers of both domestic and international governmental agencies and puts limitations on civil rights and civil liberties. One part of the act allows the government to track and report information regarding the status of foreign students in the United States including everything from the classes taken to what books are checked out at the library.

According to a report by the AAUP, the SAFE Act addresses many areas of the PATRIOT Act and calls for modifications to the policies involving the search of buildings and records without the subject’s knowledge. The act also calls for the modification of a section that would give the federal government the right to gather information about the material individuals buy from a bookstore.

The committee asks for the participation of the academic community on both the national and campus levels. A main point the committee hopes to get across to the academic community is the realistic acknowledgement of the threat of terrorism and the reasonable measures needed to deal with it.

The AAUP special committee cautions that the impact of September 11 on academic freedom is far from over, and it promises to continue to monitor conditions for academic freedom.

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