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July 07, 1993 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1993-07-07

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VIEWPOINT
Court takes away studE

By MARC SPINDELMAN
Last month, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin
struck aswift and severe,ifnot an unexpected(or
wholly surprising), blow at the constitutional
rights of public school students. The case, Isaiah
B. v. State of Wisconsin, involved the constitu-
tionality of the search of a public high school
student's locker. During a moment of particu-
larly heightened tensions in the fall of 1990, a
school principal, having heard rumors that there
would be a shootout at the school that day,
ordered a "random" search of student lockers in
order to find (among other things) the weapons
which were reputed to have been brought into the
school for use in the shootout. During the course
of this"random" search, aschoolofficialfounda
gunandcocaineintheinteriorpocketofastudent's
coat. The student moved to suppress the evidence
discoveredinthesearch. Lowercourtsdenied the
student's motion.
In ruling that the evidence discovered during
the course of this search could not be suppressed
on constitutional grounds, the Wisconsin Su-
preme Court held that public school students
have no reasonable expectations of privacy in
school lockers where public school officials have
promulgated a locker policy "retaining owner-
ship and possessory control of school lockers"
and where students have been given notice of the
policy. Sincestudentshavenoreasonableexpec-
tation of privacy in their lockers, a search by
school officialscannot be unreasonable under -
and hence a violation of - the Fourth Amend-
ment. The effectof this ruling is torecognize that
school lockers are, for constitutional purposes,

unprotected areas, that is areas that may be sub-
jected to searches - at least by school adminis-
trators - even if there is "no reason to believe
that any particular locker holds evidence of a
crime."
In a concurring opinion, Justice William
Bablitch agreed that students did not have a
reasonable expectation of privacy in school lock-
ers, but found fault with the majority's reasoning.
Justice Bablitch expressed his concern: "Negat-
ingaconstitutional 'expectation' ofprivacy based
upon whether or not a person was notified of the
impending search sets a dangerous precedent for
intrusions upon Fourth Amendment rights." Jus-
tice Bablitch concluded that "the school policy in
this case does not negate an otherwise legally
cognizable privacy interest, but rather merely
informs studentsof the already existing legal fact:
students do not have privacy interests in their
school lockers." (emphasis added) In Justice
Bablitch's view, the "already existing legal fact"
is that in light of the "immense problems (of
crime and violence) occurring in the schools ...
society is unwilling to view a student's alleged
privacy interest ina locker as reasonable."
Ithink it safe to say that the principle on which
Justice Bablitch is prepared to conclude that
students have no reasonable expectation of pri-
vacy - namely, that "in light of the dangerous
timesandpervasivenessofweaponsintheschools,
students simply cannot reasonably expect that
lockers, which the schools provide and maintain
access to, will not be subject to search" - is at
least as "dangerous" or "untenable" a constitu-
tionalprinciple as the one that the majority elabo-

Wednesday, July 7, 1993 - The Michigan Daily SmWeey -5
AT THE UNIVERSITY
1nt priv" Public enemy
ry" By SAM GOODSTEIN and FLINT WAINESS
The headline in the morning newspaper was
rates. hauntingly familiar. "7-year old latest victim of
"One of the things that's happened in the last drive-by shooting." Below it sat a story about
decade is that people seem to be more and more then candidate Bill Clinton's pledge to make
impatient about pursuing reports of crime and cities safe by greatly increasing the numbers of
less and less concerned about privacy, about police working communities in America's cities.
liberty ... That gets lost in the shuffle," com- But we had no time to peruse the paper on this
mented Prof. Yale Kamisar of the University's mundane Saturday for we were on our way to a
Law School. The goal of this decision - to good friend's graduation party. Jumping into our
protect and to secure the schoolhouse from vio- shiny new Blazer, we sifted our way through the
lence or the threat thereof - is a laudable one, hard-packed snow and headed towards South
The only question is: At what cost? As Justice University for another day of collegiate utopia.
Bablitchsuggests, society maynotbeprepared to peoe eunjoying th mieu f A or inth
recognize a student's expectation of privacy in a wintertime, thequintessentialcollegeaura. Pass-
school locker. But this, I believe, begs the ques- ing through, we had one of our typical existential
tion: Has society already spoken - through the debates, pausing only long enough to remark
voiceof the Constitution-tothismatter? Ithink about the new study that rated Ann Arbor the
that it has. And I think that a majority of the U.S. second best place in the United States to raise
Supreme Court wouldagree-attleast where the children.Without furthercommnt,webothknew
search takes place somewhere other than in a what the other was thinking - Ann Arbor is like
public school. Christmas in Who-Ville (for those of you who
Even if I am wrong, I think it at best question- haven't seen the "Grinch Who Stole Christmas",
able whether other methods-undoubtedly con- Who-Ville can be substituted for Rio during
stituionally inoffensive - also designed to pro- Spring Break).
tect the safety of our schools should not be Oh yeah, before we get off on too far of a
employed. tangent, this article is supposed to be about the
As Justice Stevens has written: "Schools University's deputized police force, the Depart-
cannotexpecttheirstudentstolearnthe lessonsof ment of PublicSafety (DPS). A little history first
good citizenship when the school authorities andthen we'll explain how our rosy Christmas in
themselves disregard the fundamental principles Who-Ville scenario fits in with DPS.
underpinning our constitutional freedoms." DPS was established in 1990 because the
University wantedanorganization, underitscon-
trot, that woud be equipped to deal with students
that don't folow University law (and there surely
Spindelman is a law student. His column will is no shortage of University laws). Of course the
appear every other week, vociferous opposition of student activists (or
what passed as student activism in the tame
Reagan-Bush era) fellon entirely deaf ears. Con-
sequently the police statecurrentlyknownas Ann
Arbor commenced operation, and our winter
Daily ignores Asian Americans peacefully melted away into a beautiful spring.
To the Daily: Few things in the world are truly priceless.
The Michigan Daily has proved itself either One of them, in the humble opinions of these two
insensitive or incompetent once again. In "Mul- would-be journalists, is the spring in Ann Arbor.
ticulturalism and student life" (Michigan Daily With flowers in bloom and beer on the tap,
Orientation Issue, Summer 1993), after listing a worries seem to vanish into the warm, clear sky.
53percentincreaseinminorityenrollmentsinthe And how fitting thatresidents of this fair city do
past three years, specific figures are listed for the nothave to worry about theft,rape, assault,etc.Or
African American and Hispanic populations. do we? Of course not, we have the formidable
Native American and Asian American statistics combination of the Ann Arbor Police Depart-
arenotably missing (47percentforNative Ameri- ment and DPS. So not only is spring enchanting,
cans and 50 percent for Asian Americans). it is safe.
For the third time in nine months,Tthe Michi- So safe in fact, that there is an abundance of
gan Daily has ignored the Asian American com- police officerspatrolling the streets. Ann Arbor's
munity in its coverage of minority student growth men and women in blue are so abundant that they
("Mandate report shows increase in minority cannot buy enough cars for all of them, forcing
students on campus," 9/18/92; "Minority stu- manytoridearoundcampusonten-speeds,horses
dents increase," 4/8/93). The Daily has itself or whatever else they can muster up.
printed several letters of complaint for these On with the narrative. After enjoying acasual
omissions. Why, then, does it continue to ignore gathering of about 100 people in the middle of
the 2899 Asian American students on campus? Greenwood Avenue one evening,naturermadeits
If these are purposeful omissions based on call(read: Miller Genuine Draft sent amessage to
"Model Minority" stereotypes about themyth of my dear friend Bladder). Little did we know that
overachievementandoverrepresentationofAsian the BusinessSchool,near Greenwood, was under
Americans, we can do nothing but forsake the close surveillance by DPS - at 1:00 am. To
Daily as a racist institution. If these are merely make a long story short, we were busted. But that
editing or production errors, the Daily is still fully iso.k.,atleasttheBusiness Schoolissafe. Atleast
responsible and reproachable. Newspapers and we are all safe.
other media forums have an absolute obligation Meanwhile the headlines roll on. The next
for fair and accurate coverage of the community. morning, enjoying the paper outside a quaint
Incompetence demands improvement, a step the coffee shop, we notice the ever growing crime
Daily has yet totake.We are taking theserepeated rate in Urban America. A shortage of cops in
offenses very seriously. The Asian American Detroitis, among other factors, forcing the city to
student community is highly disappointed with consider closing downapartof town.Onequarter
The Michigan Daily. of 6 year-olds live below the poverty line in
Edgar" p crime-heavy neighborhoods, big-city copscan't
Asian American Association President keep up with the crime. But we are safe in Ann
Arbor.

LETTERS

Ann Arbor is ticket happy
To the Daily:
I am writing this letter to all University of
Michigan students faculty and staff and to those
who visit our area. It is concerning the rabid
frequency that motorists receive parking tickets
andarestoppedandticketedforsubstantiatedand
unsubstantiated traffic violations. All of us want
the police to patrol our streets to keep them safe
and discourage motorists who would cause acci-
dents in violating traffic laws but the excessive
ticketing by the public safety departments in this
area is bordering on the ridiculous. I am not a
person who sets out to violate traffic laws; and
I'm not areckless driver. Ihave been ticketed for
everything from speeding to going through a red
light. I have been ticketed four times within the
past year. In three of those incidents I had done
nothing wrong. I went to traffic court to try to
have the ticket repealed but my pleas fell upon
deaf ears. The judge tends to go along with the
judgment of the offender as a matter of course.
One would have to have nothing short of a
videotape showing that he or she was observing
the traffic laws at the time a ticket was issued to
win a case.
I'm always conscious of the speed in which
I'm traveling and I try to obey all traffic signals.
I attributed the number of traffic and parking
ticketsI'vereceivedover ashort period of time to
some sort of a fluke or coincidence until I began
to speak with other people about the problem. I
spoke with my peers, student, faculty and staff of
the University, business leaders and even city
officials.Allof themfeelthattheticketingproce-
dures are excessive as they have had the same
experience, specifically with the Ann Arbor Po-

lice Department. Five people (three of whom
were U of M staff) who told me, at random, that
they have received parking tickets when they still
had time left on the meter. There have also been
stories of random towing when no violations
have occurred and the driver has no outstanding
ticketsorwarrants.U of M students feelthatthey
are particularly preyed upon.
People have also commented that they've
driven in many other areas throughout the state
and other parts of the country and have not been
ticketed as aggressively as in Ann Arbor.What is
so striking about these testimonials is that they
come from people of all races, economic back-
grounds, gender and social positions. Most ev-
eryone feels there is a problem.
The reason that the public safety units are
ticketing so aggressively remains illusive. There
is talk of problems Ann Arbor has in collecting
sufficient tax revenue due to the large amount of
property that is not taxable within the city. What-
ever the reason they are doing this student should
not have to deal with this bombardment. People
come to live in this area to get an education, not
to be harassed or used as a "source of revenue."
The University is well aware that there isn't
ample place to park on campus and that the city
streets and by ways are ill designed yet instead of
correcting theproblemUofMandthecityof Ann
Arbor has decided to profit from it and that is
wrong!
A motorist can be stopped and ticketed any-
time, anywhere whether they are observing traf-
fic laws or not. I have specifically seen patrols
thatborderonharassmentintheareasurrounding
Carpenter/Packard intersection.
Harassed and Annoyed Motorist

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