Friday, March 28, 2008

Assessing the threat of "threat assessment"

This is another example of how these days you really have to watch what you do. It reminds me of that song that says, "Step out of line, the man come and take you away..."

America's colleges and universities are relying more and more on what they call "threat assessment" - their method of weeding out "troublesome" students. At many institutions of higher book-burnin', if any person commits any action that the school disapproves of, their name is secretly entered into a database to "assess" the "threat."

At freshman orientation, students are encouraged to rat each other out like good little Nazis. University employees at all levels are also ordered to report students' "suspect" behavior.

This bunker mentality isn't entirely new, for I can rattle off probably a half-dozen stories that'll make you think Kentucky's university system is a podgy right-wing police state - which it is. This trend was already in progress nationally before the Virginia Tech and NIU massacres, so it's obviously ineffective at preventing tragedies like these - lies to the contrary notwithstanding.

Years ago, a "threat assessment" system like this would have been unthinkable, and students' privacy concerns were a much higher priority. How many Virginia Tech-style massacres were there back then? The only reasonable conclusion is that the "threat assessment" craze has probably contributed to incidents like NIU and VT.

At colleges these days, campus officials (who in Kentucky are disproportionately Republican) meet regularly to discuss the students in the database.

But if you have a history of harassment - as a perpetrator, not a victim - you probably don't have to worry about being placed in the database. Serial harassers are the ones who are never held accountable. Everyone else is. This is a pattern that's become more and more pronounced in recent years. If a school placed a known bully in a database, I can guarantee some right-wing legal foundation would sue the trousers off the school once this fact was discovered. That's because bullies have "rights", you see. We don't. In, BushAmerica, everything is topsy-turvy.

A police official at the University of Kentucky said that the "threat assessment" system at that school is useful because "it avoids disruptions in the classrooms and potential violence." Weird. I think 99% of all disruptions in classrooms I've been in were caused by harassers who weren't held to the high standards everyone else is held to.

You have to be careful, but the assholes don't. It's because they're assholes, and the system favors assholes.

I can also guarantee that if you have political views the school disapproves of, you're far more likely to be placed in the database than a member of the Young Republicans is. You can bet your life savings on it.

I also don't doubt that if I returned to college, and if administrators saw this entry, they'd put me in the database (if they have one) just because this entry challenges their policy. Which of course shows you how bogus their system is.


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