Students Debate Facts Behind PATRIOT Act

June 01, 2010

Passionate remarks, quick-tongued responses and spontaneous questions highlighted an eight-student debate about the facts and assumptions behind the USA PATRIOT Act and the effects it has had on civil rights and national security.



Garnet Hugebeck, who won the debate, said the "right" to inquire into the lawfulness of the restraint of the person who is imprisoned or detained, otherwise known as the writ of habeas corpus, is in fact a "privilege," which she said was the language used in the constitution.

Carla Conant disagreed. "The federal government is using the Patriot Act as a blank check," said Conant, a senior from Akron. After noting that the Act violates five of the first 10 amendments, she rhetorically asked Hugebeck, "Since when are those privileges and not rights?"

Providing an international viewpoint was Victor Gutierrez-Aguayo, a student from Mexico, who said that during war time, there are no limits to the steps the government should take to protect its people. "We can be sure more terrorist attacks are coming to the United States," he said, "but we don't know where or when [?] We have to take the initiative against terrorism."

Those arguing against the Act said that opens the door to racial profiling. Leland Spencer, runner-up in the debate, considers the Act "an enemy of civil rights and therefore an enemy of American values." Connecting national security and freedom as "one in the same," Spencer, a freshman from Massillon, said anything that threatens freedom also undermines national security.

Participating in the debate were winner Hugebeck, a freshmen from Ravenna, Spencer, who took second place, and third place Elizabeth Case, a junior from Canton.

Debaters also included Jared Shive a junior from Canton, Janine Miller, a junior from Ravenna, Brian Englehardt, a sophomore from Massillon, Gutierrez-Aguayo and Conant.

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