Student Searches Free Speech and Expression and Privacy in the Wired Age Professional

Excerpt from Professional :

Student Searches, Free Speech & Expression, and Privacy in the Wired Age

Student searches and in-school discipline for off-campus conduct

Free Speech and Expression on and off campus

Privacy in the wired age on and off campus. (Facebook, twitter, myspace, blogs, cellphones)

What are a students' constitutional rights when it comes to searches and seizures, on and off campus discipline, free speech, expression, and privacy in the wired age when on and off campus? How are students protected by the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights when it pertains to the three items listed above?

Students are often subject to rules and regulations that are associated with school codes of conduct and those rules and regulations are sometimes not reflective of constitutional rights to free speech and free action inside the laws. These long list of potential violations are printed by institutions and are made available to students, in secondary and postsecondary schools. Students are then subject to these rules often as a condition of enrollment. While some schools require students to acknowledge receipt of these codes of conduct most do not make a student sign or read the actual document but in the fine print of enrollment documents will include a clause regarding the students responsibility to uphold these codes of conduct. Students have only minimal constitutional protection from search and seizure as well as from accountability for off campus behaviors, even where they are otherwise illegal because they or their parents in the case of minors sign enrollment documents that include these clauses associated with institutional codes of conduct. This is true of both public and private institutions, and can include issues as innocuous as dress codes but also include violations of the law that have an ultimate penalty of expulsion from the institution.

It must also be mentioned that similar codes of conduct are present in many workplaces and institutions other than schools (Williamson, 2009). In other words workplaces consider ethical, moral and legal behavior as a condition of employment, and this can even go as far as firing and employee if he or she is shown to disparage the workplace or disparage an individual within it to a point of perceived harm, especially when it is done in a public manner, like online. Enforcement is also often outlined in codes of conduct and more and more these codes of conduct include issues that are inclusive of the new information age, where students are held accountable for online behaviors including negative and/or illegal statements about or toward others as well as posting photographs of themselves or others that either demonstrate immoral or illegal acts or violate others rights.

The fact that many of the technologies associated with these new regulations are new demonstrates that many of the rules are also new, but are reflective of actual rather than historical events that have negatively affected people. In other words the conduct rules as well as laws about online and information age rules and laws are being written as they are needed rather than relying on previous legal and/or criminal precedence. For this reason many of these rules and regulations have also not been tested by legal civil rights challenges that are so much a part of the fiber of the system in the U.S. Though new cases, such as those which are reflective of real harm, such as suicide or serious legal infractions that are evidenced by offsite (or even on campus) activities on social networking sites like face book or twitter are coming of age in the legal system and creating legal precedence for the future (Wheeler, 2011).

The legal climate of such situations, and especially those that are more minor such as an individual posting pictures of drunken antics online of themselves or other is still very much up in the air but like search and seizure issues on campus it is unlikely that minors especially will be afforded any greater rights than they have been in the past and will likely be held to a higher standard, with less constitutional protections than adults in many ways. This is in large part associated with the condition of enrollment issues mentioned above, where institutions hold individuals accountable for both on and off campus behaviors that are seen…

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