Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Leaving Already?

I know I've already said this, but I'm really not looking forward to leaving.

Not that I don't want to go home; I do miss my family. But I'll be leaving people behind. People I've grown to trust and care about. And its sad. As much as I miss California and everyone there, landing at SFO will be bittersweet. If I'm honest with myself, I've been letting Columbia become my home. Its not quite there yet: but the buildings are so familiar, the traffic and hustle and sheer noise of the city so comfortably routine, that I know I'll feel like a stranger for a few days at home. Even this little dorm room I've made my own has come to be mine, the place where I live. And I'll miss that.

Here, there's such a sense of independence. You're anonymous in a sea of people, and it feels great. You could do anything, be anything, and no-one would bat an eye. For me, thats the definition of freedom. As this last week begins, I can feel myself starting to somehow chafe against the restrictions here: check-ins with our RA and Mrs. L, curfew at 11. Intellectually I understand why those restrictions are there: but something inside me has grown, and that same something is starting to worry that it cannot grow any more with these rules. Its a great starting point, a sort of taster of the free rein you have as being truly, for the first time in your life, your own person while at University. That freedom, even in the minute quantities I've experienced, changes people. Its changed me. My father even noticed it, just talking with me over the phone: he said it sounded as if I'd become somehow older and more mature, leaping six months ahead in just a week or so. I'm ready. Or, at least if not at this very second, I will be very soon. I'm confident now, more so than I've ever been in my life, and I know that this time next year I will be well prepared to live on my own.

But enough waxing poetic about freedoms and nostalgia. Class today was interesting, but that's nothing new as this ConLaw class constantly teaches me new things. Our focus was the Fourth Amendment, more specifically what qualified as unlawful search and seizure. Unlike anything to do with free speech, where I feel like the phrase saying that “Congress shall make no law” is pretty damned explicit in turns of regulating the rights of the government, the Fourth Amendment can't really support an absolutist argument. Its just too vague. Some of the cases we looked at were ones where a warrant was not obtained before the search (which to me is pretty unjustifiable since the words of the Amendment say you need one before conducting a search), but the most interesting cases were one concerning where new technology falls into the search and seizure category. For example, looking at the way the Court looked at heat-sensing technology being used by the people in pre-search surveillance was a good insight into just how complicated our legal system is, because there was no precedent to fall back on in this case. 

In the afternoon session we took a closer look at the Patriotic Act. My that is some scary piece of legislation. Its a blatant violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, and yet people can stomach it or even support it. Anything that turns our Constitution into nothing more than a series of guidelines to be followed whenever the government doesn't feel like ignoring it is not patriotic in any way, shape, or form. It scares, hurts, and angers me whenever people talk about sacrificing their Constitutional rights for the “common good” or the “good of the country.” There is nothing, nothing more fundamental to this country than our rights. Its what our country was founded on and what has kept us out of the darkness of oppression for more than 200 years, so its incomprehensible to me that we could chuck out the foundation of our country in the name of protecting it. The logic does not make sense.

Before I say goodnight (I think my body is slowly trying to move me back to California time), I'd like to touch on what I believe Will and Milani spoke about in their blogs, discussing our meeting today with Mrs. L. We met to, other than just check in with each other, discuss ways that the ILC could become more well-known within the District and how we as alums of the program could give back to the community. The gist of what we had come up with in our hour-long talk seemed to be that the alums (soon to be us) should become more involved in the advertising, meaning that the alums should help in spreading the word about the program by visiting other schools and holding info sessions for potential applicants. There was also an idea that got threshed out rather thoroughly today, which was talking about how alums of the program should be more active in the selection process itself: we brought up the idea that an informal meeting between one or maybe two alums with one applicant would help the program get a feel for just exactly who that kid is, similar to the way colleges conduct their interviews that would supplement an application. That way, while the same formal interview that everyone went through this year would still occur, it would only happen after the applicant had had a chance to meet with a former ILCer and loosen out some of those nervous kinks that can really damage your selction in the more formal interview, as well as getting some idea as to the personality behind the well-dressed teenager trying their earnest best to answer questions with no right answers sitting in front of strangers who might well be deciding their future. Food for thought, at least.

Good night!

1 comment:

  1. Irene,

    We all have rules imposed on us. Sometimes they're forced on us and sometimes they're self-imposed but we set parameters understanding that there's a line drawn in the sane that we're not allowed to cross.

    As a young person still under the control of your parents they've set rules for you. Curfews, chores, schooling--these are all rules that parents typically set and the teenager understands that these rules are in place and why they're in place. Even when they disagree with them, most teenagers will follow those rules because they don't like the consequences of breaking them.

    Even when you get out on your own at a university there are rules that must be followed.

    When you stop and think about it, none of us is completely free. We all have rules we have to follow.

    The question here is which rules will we accept and which will we reject?

    We will always have people around us that will want to impose their own rules on us and they'll often try to convince us that it's for our own good. The really bad part about this is that all too often we buy into this hook, line and sinker.

    The Patriot Act is one such example. We were running scared at the time--and to some extent we still are--and we were willing to give up so many fundamental freedoms to make us feel safer.

    This is a slippery slope here and sets a dangerous precedent for the erosion of even more civil liberties.

    On another subject, we appreciate all of the input on how to improve the ILC. We want to listen to every suggestion. Responding through the blog, though, is not the best venue. It's too difficult to explain here the complex issues and to give examples of why things are the way they are. Look for a more detailed response through a more private means of communication.