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Review of CHS ACLU Chapter 2004-05

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Review of CHS ACLU Chapter 2004-05
by Rebecca Wener, outgoing chapter co-president

The Columbia High School ACLU chapter worked hard
during this past year to create different kinds of
events about important civil rights issues, which

would promote awareness among high school students. In
the beginning months of the school year, the club
focused on "Banned Books Week". This is an annual
event which is publicized by the American Library
Association and others, in the hopes of raising
awareness about censorship in America today. Groups of
students went to different English classes and read
passages from popular children's books which have been
banned recently in different parts of the United
States. Several librarians also visited and discussed
the effects of the Patriot Act and other pieces of
legislation that have been limiting the ability of
libraries to serve as a free bastion of information
for the public.

During the spring semester, we hosted a lecture
series on topics ranging from racial justice and
women's rights, to the separation of church and state,
to injustices during the war on terror and the war on
drugs. Each lecturer was an expert in his or her
field, who had worked with the ACLU to help remedy a
particular injustice. Each, in turn, provided unique
insights of the issues and helped to stimulate
discussion among the students. For example, Caroline
Bettinger Lopez, who spoke as an expert on women's
rights issues, focused much of her talk on the Supreme
Court case Gonzales v Castle Rock. This ruling would
help decide whether restraining orders, which often
are a vital piece of protection for women against
their abusive husbands, would carry much weight with
the law. In practical terms the question to be decided
was whether policemen would be obliged to enforce
orders. Since that discussion, the Supreme Court has
ruled that policemen are allowed to use their
discretion as to whether to enforce the details in a
restraining order.

In addition, ACLU teamed up with the CHS Political
Awareness Club to help register voters for the
upcoming elections in November. Perhaps due to the
fact that the 2005 election will not be quite as
dramatic as the presidential election of 2004, we were
not as successful as we were last year, when we
managed to register several hundred new voters.
However, we still were able to register many new
people. Hopefully, we also established voter
registration as an important annual event for future
club members.

This spring the Martin Luther King Association brought
the difficult subject of the achievement gap to the
forefront of discussion in the high school. One of the
most upsetting aspects of this issue is that it has
languished for so long without enough broad based
public attention. Now that it is being actively
discussed, one goal for the ACLU for next year is to
play a part in making sure that important changes will
be made to rectify the problem.

Posted by paul at June 23, 2005 06:09 PM
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