GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY RESOLUTION TO PROTECT CIVIL LIBERTIES

 

WHEREAS George Mason University is proud of its long-standing commitment to protecting the civil rights and liberties of its students, faculty and employees; 

 

WHEREAS the University has a diverse population, including many foreign students and faculty, whose contributions are vital to the culture, character, and learning environment of our University; 

 

WHEREAS the preservation of civil rights and liberties is essential to the well-being of a democratic society and an academic environment; 

 

WHEREAS federal, state, local and campus governments should protect the public from terrorist attacks such as those that occurred on September 11, 2001, but should do so in a rational and deliberative fashion to ensure that any new security measure enhances public safety without impairing constitutional rights or infringing on civil liberties;

 

WHEREAS government security measures that undermine fundamental rights do damage to the institution of academia and the values that the students, faculty and employees of the University hold dear;

 

WHEREAS we believe that there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty -- we can be both safe and free; 

 

WHEREAS federal policies adopted since September 11, 2001, including provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56) and related executive orders, regulations and actions threaten fundamental rights and liberties by:

 

(a)  authorizing the indefinite incarceration of non-citizens based on suspicion, and the indefinite incarceration of citizens designated by the President as “enemy combatants” without access to counsel or recourse to the federal courts; 

(b)  limiting the traditional authority of federal courts to curb law enforcement abuse of electronic surveillance in anti-terrorism investigations and ordinary criminal investigations;

(c)  expanding the authority of federal agents to conduct so-called “sneak and peek” or “black bag” searches, in which the subject of the search warrant is unaware that his/her property has been searched;

(d)  granting law enforcement and intelligence agencies broad access to personal medical, financial, library and education records with little if any judicial oversight;

(e)  limiting constitutionally protected speech through overbroad definitions of “terrorism”; 

(f) permitting the FBI  to conduct surveillance of religious services, Internet chat rooms, political demonstrations, and other public meetings of any kind without having any evidence that a crime has been or may be committed;

 

WHEREAS these new powers pose a particular threat to the civil rights and liberties of the members of our University community.

 

WHEREAS new proposed federal legislation seeks to further limit the civil liberties of our University community and further endanger the rights of our students, faculty and employees; and 

WHEREAS many other cities and universities throughout the country have enacted resolutions reaffirming support for civil rights and civil liberties in the face of government policies that threaten these values and demanding accountability from law enforcement agencies regarding their use of these new powers;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE FACULTY SENATE AND LOCAL CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERISTY PROFESSORS OF GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY:

1. AFFIRM their strong support for fundamental constitutional rights and their opposition to federal measures that infringe on civil liberties and academic freedoms.  

2. AFFIRM their strong support for the rights of all students, faculty and employees and oppose measures that single out individuals for legal scrutiny or enforcement activity based on their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age or country of origin. 

3. URGE all libraries at the University to take steps to educate members of the University community that, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), records of the books and other materials borrowed from the libraries, and records of electronic communications and transactions may be obtained by federal agents, and that, if these records are sought under authorities granted under the USA PATRIOT Act, the library is prohibited from informing the members of the community.

4. URGE the Office of the Registrar to provide notice to individuals whose education records have been obtained by law enforcement agents pursuant to section 507 of the USA PATRIOT Act.

5. URGE all bookstores and other entities that maintain business records of purchases at the University to take steps to educate members of the University community that, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), records of the books and other materials purchased may be obtained by federal agents, and that, if  these records are sought under authorities granted under the USA PATRIOT Act, the University is prohibited from informing the members of the community.

6. URGE all of the University’s computer laboratories and other centers with public computer terminals to take steps to educate members of the University community that, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), any emails sent or documents used on the computers or on the University Internet Service Provider may be monitored and/or obtained by federal agents, and that, if  these records are sought under authorities granted under the USA PATRIOT Act, the University is prohibited from informing the members of the community.

7. URGE the University Administration to send a notice to all students, faculty and employees by mail and by email notifying them that all of their interaction on the University ISP, as well as their library records and their bookstore records and their student files can be monitored or obtained by Federal Agents.  The Administration is further urged to include a copy of this Resolution with that notice. 

8. URGE the University Administration to seek periodically from federal authorities information in a form that facilitates an assessment of the effect of federal anti-terrorism efforts on the students, faculty and employees of the University and to transmit summary of this information to the Faculty Senate every year.

9. DIRECT the Secretaries of the Faculty Senate and the GMU chapter of the AAUP to transmit a copy of this resolution to Senators John Warner and George Allen and Representatives Tom Davis, Frank Wolf and James Moran accompanied by a letter urging them to monitor federal anti-terrorism tactics and to ensure that state anti-terrorism laws and policies be implemented in a manner that does not infringe on civil liberties; 

10. DIRECT the Secretaries of the Faculty Senate and the GMU chapter of the AAUP to transmit a copy of this resolution to Governor Warner, and appropriate members of the State Legislature, accompanied by a letter urging them to ensure that state anti-terrorism laws and policies be implemented in a manner that does not infringe on civil liberties as described in this resolution.

11. DIRECT the Secretaries of the Faculty Senate and the GMU chapter of the AAUP to transmit a copy of this resolution to President Bush and the U.S. Attorney General.

12. DIRECT the Secretaries of the Faculty Senate and the GMU chapter of the AAUP to transmit a copy of this resolution to the Faculty Senates and AAUP chapters of the other Virginia public universities, accompanied by a letter urging them to adopt similar resolutions.