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Tennessee, the "Fuck Your Privacy Rights" State
July 18, 2008


The following rant is based on this news story:
If under 21, alcohol, drug offenses to be reported to parents
By Jessie Pounds
Monday, June 30, 2008


Some Tennessee college students may think being 18 means freedom from parent oversight. Those in state schools will need to rethink that assumption. A new measure, signed by Gov. Phil Bredesen on June 19, means higher-education institutions governed by the state must notify the parents of any student younger than 21 who violates drug and alcohol laws or policies.

The law is the first of its kind in the country and takes advantage of a 1998 amendment to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. FERPA prohibits schools from releasing other information about students 18 or older without the student's permission, but under the 1998 amendment, schools can decide whether or not to notify parents in the case of drug and alcohol violations.

State Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, the bill's sponsor, said he is appalled by the numbers of college students who die or are injured each year as a result of alcohol abuse and that he believes the measure will improve student safety. "The universities are not able to be parents, and they are not able to be family," Herron said. "Instead, they ought to help families reach out to their loved ones."

At the University of Tennessee, the new state measure is eliciting mixed reactions from students, mostly positive responses from parents, and promises by administrators to comply with the law, despite previously expressed concerns.

Anna Harlan of Lenoir City, whose daughter will be a UT freshman in the fall, said she supports the new law and believes it could benefit students in trouble. "Whether they are in college or are 26 and in law school, if the student is having problems, someone should tell the family," Harlan said. "I hope somebody would do that for me if I was losing my capacities."

Alex Mullins, 18, of Oak Ridge, attending UT orientation like Harlan and her daughter, also supports the law, though from a different standpoint. "If parents are paying the tuition, they have a right to know what's going on," he said.

On the other hand, 21-year-old UT senior Ben McComb said such a law could interfere with a student's ability to mature and conflicts with the other responsibilities of adulthood. "If I'm over the age of 18 and I get a speeding ticket, I still have to pay for it," he said. "If I get a DUI, it would still be my discretion whether I told my parents."

Before enactment of the new law, UT contacted students' parents in some but not all situations, according to Tim Rogers, vice chancellor for student affairs. "We would not contact a parent in every case, particularly if it were just a case of possession of a can of beer," Rogers said.

Anthony Haynes, UT associate vice president and director of state relations, spoke to legislators on behalf of the university. According to Haynes, the university did not formally oppose the measure but did express concern about losing the option not to notify parents in certain situations.

"First and foremost, we always want to do what's in the best interest of the student," Haynes said. "If the relationship with the parent is the root of the problem, maybe that's the worst thing to do."

David Gregory, who also spoke with lawmakers, is the vice chancellor for administration for the Tennessee Board of Regents, which represents other state schools outside the UT system. He, along with Haynes, originally had concerns that the rule might contradict FERPA, but the Board of Regents eventually decided that there was not a contradiction.

Likewise, when state Sen. Jamie Woodson, R-Knoxville, who chairs the Senate's education committee, requested that State Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr. look into that possibility, Cooper found that the measure did not contradict federal law. In the end, Herron's bill won out, with the measure passing unopposed in the Senate and by a 69-22 vote in the House.

Now the task falls to the colleges and universities to implement the law. The coming years will tell whether the measure has an impact on students' use or abuse of drugs and alcohol.

UT student Craig Harris, 21, said he thinks notifying parents would decrease repeat offences but that it wouldn't do much to curb overall alcohol consumption by younger college students. "The only thing they could do to lessen underage drinking would be to lower the drinking age," Harris said.

He paused and then added, "You've got to give them credit for trying."

Jessie Pounds may be reached at 865-342-6414.
[ Source ]

Y'know what? It's about damn time Tennessee did this. I'm so fucking excited about this new law they've passed that I want to help out with it. So, to save some of the paper-pushers in various TN colleges, I decided to write up a form letter they could use to send home to the parents of these little shits who drink and do drugs at college. I mean, what the fuck do they think, that just because they're over 18, they're legal adults? HA! I suppose they think they have some sort of "privacy rights" or some other such nonsense too, don't they? Little bastards! But that's ok. Us grown-ups are gonna fix their wagon, yessiree! Hell, I'm turning 30 in about 2 months, so I figure it's time to jump on the bandwagon! After all, us old farts gotta stick together to beat the youth of America down until their idealism and hope for the future has died help the children!

So here's my contribution to the cause! I can only hope it helps!

Dear [parent name here],

We, the faculty and staff of [school] regret to inform you that your son or daughter, [name], has been involved with underage drinking and/or drug abuse here on campus.

We here at [school] thought you should know, even though we realize that there's fuck-all you can do about it because, at this point, your kids could get a minimum wage job and bust their asses to put themselves through college just like millions of other young adults have done for decades (although we won't tell them that; can't break the conspiracy of silence that keeps them believing they NEED their parents' support to get through college, lolz). We do indeed realize that sending this letter is nothing more than petty state-sponsored tattling since the one and only realistic thing that could come from this is you bitching and moaning at your kids. In response, your kids will tell you that it was a mistake and won't happen again, then they'll go back to school where you can't monitor their every move (like you did all their lives) and continue the exact same behavior.

Thank you for your time and please let us know if we can rat your son or daughter out in any other ways. It's not like their privacy means dick to us, after all.

Sincerely, The faculty and staff of some shitty little hick college

Oh fuck, hang on a minute! I just realized something. Shit... this is so disappointing! Dude, I can't jump on the ageist bandwagon. I just remembered, I'M NOT A FUCKING MORON, I DON'T FUCK MY SISTER, I HAVE AN IQ HIGHER THAN 65 AND, OH YEAH BTW, I CAN FUCKING READ THE CONSTITUTION!

God fucking damnit! And I was so excited about joining the old gang, too! Having common sense and not being a dick-gobbling Tennessee hillbilly really does have its disadvantages sometimes!

Let's get down to the crux of the matter. Tennessee has passed a law stating that a government institution is legally permitted to share confidential information with private citizens outside of that institution. This isn't your local elementary school sending home a fucking report card or calling the parents when little Billy humps Jenny's leg behind the oak tree at recess. This is an institution that serves adults and maintains the confidentiality of adults. Now these institutions are required by law to breach that confidientiality by exposing private information to other adults. If I were to get a DUI (unlikely since I don't drink and can't drive, but bear with me), the cops wouldn't call my parents. Why the fuck would they? I'm an ADULT; it's none of my parents' business if I fuck up.

The perpetrators of this criminal act (and it is a crime, law or no law) defend their actions by saying it's to "help" young adults who may need help by informing their families. Oh, I see, so if the under-21 drinker is married, they'll tell his wife instead of his parents? What if the under-21 drinker is a parent himself, will they call up his children too so that they can beg daddy to stop drinking?

That absurd leap of faith (not logic; logic has no part in this) also makes one hell of a blanket assumption. It assumes that if you're under the age of 21 and consume alchohol, you need "help" from your family. I wasn't aware of this new diagnostic criteria for alchoholism. No longer do you need help if you're addicted to the poison to the exclusion of all else. Oh, no no, NOW apparently you have a fucking drinking problem if you're under a certain age! That's interesting, really. See, when I was in college (ages 19 and 20, roughly), I used to party and get drunk off my ass nearly every weekend. Funny thing is, I didn't have a "problem." I didn't need any "help" from my family. I was using alchohol in a social setting, just like millions of over-21 adults do ALL THE DAMN TIME! Well, let's be honest here and say that I was doing what millions of under-21 adults do ALL THE DAMN TIME!

This shit has got to fucking stop. Underage drinking isn't a "problem" by itself, it's a problem because the Minimum Legal Drinking Age act MAKES IT a problem! The government enforces a law that CREATES the state of criminality for those between the ages of 18 and 21 if they drink, and then calls it a fucking "problem" when they do it! Before 1984 (when the MLDA was enacted), there was no problem! Do ya get what I'm fucking saying here, dumbasses, or do I need to draw you a fucking picture? The problem is MAN-MADE. There was no fucking problem with drinking on college campuses before the MLDA. Why not? Because nobody had to hide the shit! When you take things underground, it causes nothing but fucking problems - ever.

But let's not get distracted here. This isn't even about the drinking age. Underage drinking is just a convenient fucking excuse for Tennessee's government to take away the rights of their citizens. It won't help shit. I know it, you know it, and the motherfucking Tennessee government knows it too. All this amounts to is more infantilizing of young adults; more of the batshit insane ideal that's taken hold in our culture that if we treat teenagers and young adults like stupid little children and waste our fucking time bubble-wrapping them, it'll make the world a better place. It hasn't done that and it will NEVER do that.

This law will change not one goddamn thing where underage drinking is concerned. The only change is that now certain citizens of Tennessee have fewer rights than other citizens of Tennessee. The State's government has drawn a line in the sand dividing which people are allowed a basic Constitutional Right and which people have no such rights. There's a word for that: Discrimination.

Hey Tennessee: It's called the 14th Amendment, you cocksucking dildos - equal protection! Try looking it up!


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