Bowdoin and the Patriot Act
It's not easy being stuck between a rock and a hard place, and that's where the College administration finds itself in the debate over the Patriot Act and its effects on academia.
When considering the issue, it is important to distance ourselves from the heated rhetoric about the merits of the act itself and focus on the tension it creates in a college community founded on academic freedom and disinterested intellectual pursuits.
The concern expressed by librarians and others over the requirements of the Patriot Act are understandable because they run contrary to the spirit of higher education. Colleges today go to great lengths to respect the privacy of their students-their studies, their social lives, and their disciplinary pasts. The secrecy of J-Board proceedings is a good example of this protection.
The Patriot Act takes effect in era where higher education has frequently found itself in the courtroom-most recently concerning the use of race in admissions decisions.
This may be a nother case in which academia must stand up for its principles. Trying to strike a balance between the Patriot Act and preserving privacy will not work. The act will only work best with full compliance from all appropriate people and institutions.
We understand the College's current stance, but if the administration
is sufficiently concerned, it would be preferable to outrightly reject
the Patriot Act's requirements and seek their elimination.