Perhaps many of you know about students at Hampton University currently facing expulsion for participating in the November 2 protests sponsored by The World Can’t Wait.

If not, here is information about it and a call to support the students

Ah the advantages of being able to dress up like a good girl and slap a few words on university letterhead!

I have called the university and written the following letter which is going in the mail today. I encourage anyone and everyone to do the same (especially if you have university “credentials”). Feel free to beg, borrow or steal from this letter as you wish, and/or to pass it on.

Letters are to be send to Dean Long, Dean of Women at Hampton University and to Woodson Hopewell, Jr., Dean of Men

Hampton University
Hampton Virginia 23668

I didn’t see anything on their site about this scandal in which they are currently embroiled. Maybe someone should write them to inquire!

My letter below the fold.

I recently learned from a colleague about disciplinary measures involving the possible expulsion of students (Aaron Ray, Sheridan Owens, and Verness Hunt) at your university in response to their participation in political activities on November 2, 2005. I consider these disciplinary measures counter productive. In my classes at the university, I teach students that participation in the democratic process is an essential civic responsibility. It is in fact one of the most sacred duties of the citizenry in a participatory democracy. These values were once taught in high school civics classes that have since been replaced by courses in “American government” in which curriculum focuses almost exclusively on the structural and functional outlines of government bodies with little or no discussion of the roles and responsibilities of the populace in the democratic process.

This change in curricular focus is apparent in voter participation statistics: during the last 25 years, voter turnout has decreased from 63% to 54%, and the greatest decrease can be seen in young people (18-24), whose participation in elections has decreased by 18% in the past 25 years, so that now, a mere 32% of youth turn out at the polls. Obviously, the high schools are not doing what needs to be done to prepare young people for embarking on a civically responsible life.

The highly contested nature of the most recent election  helped to increase voter turnout to around 60%. However, when an election is decided by 50% of 60% of eligible voters, this means that the “winner” of said election is supported by about 30% of the population. In other words, democracy has failed and the minority rules, not the majority. This is clearly reflected in recent polls which place approval rates for the current administration at 37% (CNN). Especially when the electoral process fails to serve the principle of “majority rules,” it is not only the “right” of the populace to protest, it is their responsibility.

Regardless of one’s political stance, participation in the political process is a responsibility we should be teaching our young people, not something for which they should fear reprimand. They should be rewarded for their commitment to democratic principles and encouraged to contribute in any way they can to shaping the future of the country because it is, after all, their future–it is my sincere hope that you will encourage your students to continue in their efforts to insure that the democratic process not be subverted by lack of interest and/or participation and that you will support them in their efforts.  I will be following the development of this case very closely.

Kind Regards,

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