St. Mikes’ Students Want Cops Off Campus

Approximately one hundred St. Michael’s College students gathered on their campus to demand respect for their constitutional rights.

The protesters would like the Colchester Police Department to be banned from campus, according to The Burlington Free Press.

The demonstration was followed by a forum. Pro-test organizers invited two lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to attend.

Protesters feel that the police are violating their civil rights, illegally searching property and forcing students to take breathalyzer tests without probable cause.

All protesters were of the legal drinking age.

“We were addressing search and seizure as well as privacy rights. We want-ed to know our exact rights in the face of the police,” Kelsey Stavseth, a St. Mi-chael’s College student who attended the demonstration, said.

According to The Burlington Free Press, Lieutenant Doug Allen, who at-tended the forum student’s concerns, explained that police need a warrant to search any private property.

Allen said student’s speculations that there has been an increase in police on campus are accurate.

It is due to an increase of incidents relating to alcohol abuse as well as safety con-cerns stemming from the murder of University of Vermont student Michelle Gardener-Quinn in October of last year.

Allen Gilbert, the executive director of the ACLU of Vermont, also attended the forum, explaining to students that police have the right to request identification or administer a breathalyzer test if a student is with someone who appears to be underage and intoxicated.

Protesters want to make sure people understand that the sole purpose of the demonstration was not to remove police from campus, but for students to understand their rights at their private institution.

The demonstration has created a buzz around the St. Mike’s campus.

In addition, dozens of bloggers have posted their opinions on The Burlington Free Press Web site.

One blogger explained that he thought the protesters were simply being “bratty” college students, while other bloggers felt that students were simply fighting for their rights.

Some bloggers feel that the protest has been misconstrued.

“The issue is not drinking, it is not the ability to break the law. It is the rights enshrined in the constitution. The demands of the protest went well beyond decreased police presence.”

While UVM is a public university where the law and rules are more clear cut, many students feel that they are facing issues similar to those of St. Mike’s College.

Eric Mintz, a junior at UVM said that he was once forcibly held inside a packed house for four hours by the police who were waiting for a warrant, but once they did not receive it demanded any underage students take a breathalyzer test.

“The police showed absolutely no care for the safety of the people inside the house or, for that matter, the safety of anyone else in the vicinity.

It was clear that their main objective was to charge someone with something.

Parties are not criminal. Underage drinking is an offense, but it would seem to me there are more pressing issues for the Burlington Police Department,” Mintz said.

St. Mike’s students gathered hundreds of stories like this around their own campus and read them at the protest.

Other UVM students have heard many other stories like this around campus, but have not experienced it for themselves.

“Students just need to know their rights. The police are constantly invading the living spaces of students without just cause,” Sophomore Sam Daniels, said.

According to UVM Chief of Police, Gary Margolis, these statements are not accurate.

Chief Margolis explained that police act by terms on the U.S. Constitution, federal law and Vermont law.

The majority of accusations of police violations against the police are violations of the fourth amendment, regarding search and seizure. Because of the complexities of this amendment and the law, students probably do not fully understand it.

Margolis suggests that students further research the law to understand their rights especially in the face of the police.