By Jessica Killam
Did you know that as a student attending Fitchburg State University, you are guaranteed a certain number of rights that are laid out in the Student Handbook? Here’s an even better question: do you know what any of these rights are? Michael Vanderpool, 20, recently took the time to read over these rights and is now speaking with the school to amend them.
After the recent expulsion of his friend Andrew Despres – otherwise know as ‘DayDay’ – due to the possession of marijuana, knives and firecrackers, Vanderpool started his search into the schools students’ rights. “In my opinion, the cops searched his room unjustly and they based their search on superficial evidence that would not hold up in court,” he said. As stated in the current student handbook, student rooms can be searched if the University has reasonable cause that laws or regulations are being violated. However there is nothing written that makes the school accountable for their actions.
In his current revisions, which are now being reviewed by both the school and their lawyers, Vanderpool seeks to change things such as the circumstances in which a student can be barred from campus, how to conduct a proper room search, and protecting those who support the actions of other students, no matter how the school views it. This last revision has to do with the fact that, according to Vanderpool, “there were threats made to students that they could be fired from their on campus jobs if they joined the ‘Free DayDay’ page on Facebook and participated in ‘Free DayDay’ events.”
In order to protect the freedom of speech and civil liberties of these students, Vanderpool writes in section five of his amendments that “a student employed at the school may not be fired, laid off, or discriminated against for taking a stance opposing the school, as long as they behave appropriately in the workplace.” His other six amendments are written out in the same concise way and mainly address the ways in which Despres was mistreated.
In the past three weeks, Vanderpool had a meeting with President Antonucci where he stated that he would be “happy to change the rights and work with him to get them passed.” This past week he was informed that the revisions were finally being looked at and reviewed. These rights are something that Vanderpool has stated that he is “very passionate about” and he is “not willing to be ignored.” His efforts and those of others who support him are sure to press on until the students at Fitchburg State are granted the rights that they are entitled to.