Story Updated 8/12 and 8/17 - Correspondence Added
Rutgers has been billing students to support the legislative lobbying group, NJ Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG). Each semester an item is added to each student's bill with the description "NJPIRG". To not pay this fee the student (or the parent paying the bill) needs take action to have this fee removed. Not only is this action unethical, it is also illegal.
State law (18A:62-22) requires that any fee for organizations "which employ legislative agents or attempt to influence legislation" is only authorized by having "the student add the charge to the total amount due." This requires a positive check off for the fee. The law also requires specific language to be included on the bill.
Optional fees shall be accompanied by a statement as to the nature of the item, and that the item is not a charge required to be paid by the student but rather the student may add the charge to the total amount due, and that the item appears on the bill at the request of the student body, and does not necessarily reflect the endorsement of the governing body. - N.J.S.A. 18A:62-22
Rutgers is in violation of the law. They have a negative check off and do not include the required language.
NJPIRG, along with other state PIRG chapters have lobbied public institutions to automatically bill students a fee that is forwarded to the state chapter of PIRG. In my case the fee was $11.20 for the Fall 2015 semester. The fee can be removed - but only if it is noticed and the appropriate boxes are checked when paying the tuition balance.
Currently, fees for organizations which attempt to influence legislation are included on tuition bills at some institutions as "negative check-off" fees. This means the person paying the tuition bill must elect not to include the organization fee with the tuition bill. This bill would change that procedure to a positive check-off, so that the person paying the tuition bill must elect to include the fee with the tuition payment.
Rutgers University is breaking the law with their current billing practice. According to the Rutgers Tuition and Fees page, the fee is categorized as one of their "Optional Fees". The required language is nowhere to be found and those paying the bill have to take an action to have the fee removed.
In apparent display of social correctness and lack of understanding of social media and free speech rights, Executive Director of HR, James Miller has suspended Associate Professor Francis Schmidt over a picture Schmidt had uploaded to his Google+ account.
Our schools and universities should be a place of open discussion, discovery, and analysis of all thoughts. By limiting what can be discussed, the bureaucrats who run our higher education institutions are limiting the ability of young people to learn and develop. Instead of banishing anything that may be deemed offensive, schools should be encouraging students to have their views challenged, discussed, and analyzed.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) summarizes the censorship:
Displaying a lack of both pop culture and First Amendment awareness, administrators at Bergen Community College in New Jersey placed Professor Francis Schmidt on leave this past January, requiring him to meet with a psychiatrist before returning to campus—just for posting a picture of his daughter in a T-shirt quoting the popular HBO television show Game of Thrones.
A 16 year old boy in Galloway Township was arrested for doodling what looked like it might have been a gun. Reason magazine covered it here.
A real threat? Or a overly paranoid school willing to persecute a young man for doodling and possessing undisclosed chemicals in his home?
Police Chief, Pat Moran, stated "“There was no indication he was making a bomb, or using a bomb or detonating a bomb" yet they charged him with possession of an explosive device.
Something smells fishy here.
There are several interesting bills pending before the State Legislature. I urge you to contact your State Legislstors and the Committee members for each of these bills.
S1977 Marijuana Decriminalization
S1977 decriminalizes possession of up to 50 grams of marijuana. It treats marijuana possession as a civil offense and sets a fine of $50 for possession that gets paid entirely to the municipality where the offense was committed. Currently possession of up to 50 grams is a disorderly persons offense that can result in a up to 6 month prison sentence and a fine of up to $1,000.
When in the course of national affairs, it becomes necessary for one generation to dissolve the political and financial bondage which have connected it with others, and to assume among the powers of our republic, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitles it. A decent respect to the opinions of society requires that it should declare the causes which impels it to generational divorce.
We hold this truth to be self-evident, that the rights of people all generations are equal, that we, as young people, are entitled to inherit the same free and opportunity-filled country that the the generation currently in power inherited.
Three Rutgers University students were detained last week for chalking a peace sign and the words "Ron Paul" on a wall of the Rutgers New Brunswick campus. These students stated that they were members of the Rutgers Libertarians and the Rutgers Young Americans for Liberty groups.
In 1670, William Penn and William Mead were arrested and charged with violating the Coventicle Act. This act forbade religious assemblies of more than five people, unless they were assembling on behalf of the Church of England. Using jury nullification, the jury acquitted Penn and Mead. As a result the judge demanded that the jury not be dismissed until another verdict is reached. After announcing a decision of an acquittal four times the judge fined each of the juror's for their decision. One juror, Edward Bushel, refused to pay the fine and was imprisoned. Penn and Mead were imprisoned anyway for not removing their hats in court.
Government education bureaucracy has been turning our schools into a police state. This past year several New Jersey schools have implemented random drug testing of students, even in middle schools. Students and their lockers are searched without reasonable cause. Zero tolerance polices are being enforced across the state. Instead of handling minor infractions internally, the police are called and criminal charges are being filed.
A seven year old brought a Nerf style toy gun into the Hammonton Early Education Center in Atlantic County. This menacing youth is now charged with a misdemeanor criminal charge for brandishing an imitation firearm on school property.
Dear NJLP Friends,
Recently (at least since September 10th ) Rowan University has decided that in light of a startlingly high number of alcohol related hospitalizations to require all Undergraduates of the school to take an online alcohol awareness class. Now when I first heard of these plans I found them to be perfectly understandable and even went as far as to applaud the administration for taking a proactive position in educating uninformed students about the potential hazards of excess drinking. Many students who enter into the college realm are overwhelmed by their new found independence and are unable to make mature decision without the immediate guidance of their parental figures. Also I found this to be a better alternative than having more school regulations put in place, however my praises quickly disappeared.
A Washington-based "youth rights group" wants to undermine Kyleigh's Law by asking all motorists to voluntarily put the controversial decals on their vehicles.
Kyleigh's Law, which goes into effect on Saturday, will require holders of a Graduated Driver License — primarily teenagers -- to affix detachable decals to their front and rear license plates.
Calling the new law "discriminatory and dangerous," the National Youth Rights Association is endorsing a seemingly far-fetched strategy aimed at getting all motorists to shell out $4 for a pair of decals.
This past Monday, the Rutgers Young Americans for Liberty commemorated the fall of the Berlin Wall by erecting their own symbolic wall on campus. Rutgers YAL member Aaron Williams and myself spent our Sunday constructing a 10 foot high wall which we put up on College Ave. early the next morning in a high traffic area, Brower Commons.
Student writing on the Berlin Wall replica at Rutgers University
Read the full story at Young Americans for Liberty website...
This past year the NJ Libertarian Party has utilized the services of a student Press Secretary. While this job does not pay, Rutgers recognizes this internship for college credits. Many other opportunities exist for freedom minded students.
The Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) is a unique organization that assists undergraduate and graduate students worldwide with an interest in individual liberty.They currently have three internship programs and two scholarships.
The Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program includes a summer internship working on state or federal policy at one of more than 70 policy organizations plus two career workshops and weekly policy lectures.
As a senior at Allentown High School, I served as vice president of Life-Savers, a club dedicated to preventing student substance abuse. This year our Board of Education proposed a policy that would require students who wish to participate in extracurricular activities to submit to random urinalysis tests for illicit drug use. While I understand the desire to do more, I believe the policy will do more harm than good. My fellow students and I are organizing against this policy, which is ineffective, discounts student input, invades privacy and erodes trust.
This evening the Upper Freehold Township Board of Education held its second drug testing forum. As reported earlier the school board is investigating (with lots of prodding from the Feds) implementing a random drug screening of all high school students. The Drug Policy Alliance of New Jersey, along with myself arranged to have a speaker present who could talk about the science behind drug testing. Dr. Steven Marcus gave a very intelligent discussion that contradicted much of what the board had been told earlier by Ms. Steffner, of the White House office of National Drug Control Policy.