[US College observation] 10 Years From Now

Anonyme, Dimanche, Juin 20, 2010 - 06:13

Sudhama Ranganathan

College is a time to expand one's knowledge of self for those fortunate enough experience it. Many are there in part to experiment by taking chances in a safe environment. They also work hard and ponder what others have discovered to help inspire and inform decisions they will make going forward.

Social experimentation and testing limits has been part of the package almost as long as people have attended colleges. No one teaches about unwinding and where limits are - there's no class for that. Within the established traditions of campus craziness there are no referees. Sure, friends keep each other from completely losing it, but ultimately that task is the individual's.

It gets crazy week in and out, and that's how it's supposed to be. No one should be surprised to hear people drink, hook up and commit their fair share of mischief and even misdemeanors on campus. Some consider it an unwritten rule.

But, what if there were observers keeping tabs? What if people were writing down names and dates of who was doing what, where and at with who? What if people were collecting photographs of what some were doing and compiling them in reports? What if we weren't talking facebook, myspace or some blog, but data entered into government records?

What if years down the road when you've grown past the wild excesses of your youth just like everyone else those pictures, records or videos were sitting in some file, folder or vault somewhere waiting to surface? What if in your thirties to fifties with a family, career and still growing future someone threatened to thwart your future plans, those of your spouse, your children, your friends or coworkers with evidence stored from your college years? You know... a slice of you doing what every college student does and is expected to do - party and experiment.

While at college in my mid thirties between 2002 and 2006 I found myself in an unexpected situation. I was being observed and my moves studied by professionals due to my past involvement in a violent student protest. This protest happened in 1990 on a college campus when I was seventeen and still in high school. It was understandable on one hand given how close it was to the occurrence of 9/11. I myself was still smarting, a little nervous and confused about what the events of 9/11 meant and what could come next.

But the observation leaked and professionalism went out the door. At some point someone decided instead of denying me entrance to the program, to which one needed to be accepted based on subjective criteria, they would let me in. Then, having previously decided me a threat, experiment with harassing me until I broke and quit, flunked or reacted and got thrown out. One of the professionals within this context attempted to play my friend and apply a tactic of providing a shoulder to lean on and hand to shake, but when the timing was right turn on me hoping this would add to my stress enough to produce the desired effect.

However the constant games only intensified my will to graduate. The professional I referred to earlier had gotten to the point he was backpeddling trying to dissuade me from formally complaining within the school and especially bringing charges from outside the school, things I was beggining to vocally consider.

Finally, out of desperation, he subtly revealed to me he was a federal agent working on campus for years in a similar capacity. He essentially said he was leaving campus undercover work after our class graduated, but another person he identified as being a fed intended to continue at another university. Apparently through this admission he hoped to gain my trust enough so I would not complain. He also alluded to others who served in similar capacities there to keep an eye on me.

At this things started to feel even more odd than they already did. Not all observers were official law enforcement, and some worked for private corporations. Of course in my view any law enforcement agency keeping tabs on me since 1990 should have known I had not been involved in politics outside of voting and conversation nor had I been arrested or charged with anything. They would also know the only other person charged with a felony in the event had, unlike myself, been let off the hook by the federal government with no real explanation before any trial started. They would know how odd this was especially since that person was implicated more directly in the violent aspect of the protest and planning than myself. (Read about this via the link at the end.)

Beyond myself all my classmates, merely trying to get degrees, were also being monitored. They routinely partied with the undercover professionals. Thus, years from now anything they did at those parties be it a conversation, an accompanying photo or video may now be in federal storage somewhere. There for as long as is deemed necessary.

The federal government has already acknowledged investigative activities on college campuses nationwide conducted by the Joint Terrorism Task Force made up of the combined efforts of close to twenty different aspects of government. They have been active in my state as well. Information gathered could be in the vaults of any number of agencies.

Additionally the private corporations are not monitored by any congressional body. There is no record of what is collected or on whom except what they choose to divulge to the agencies they were contracted by. For any contracted by the school, well... who knows?

After 9/11 security became was everywhere. Physical presence of security became as valuable as clandestine operations because numbers made people feel psychologically safe especially due to everyone's confusion. However, looking forward there was a price to pay for that. I personally experienced the waste of taxpayer resources and watched information on young college students being gathered. I feel a little responsible, but I know the people making decisions had a choice in admitting me to the program.

Resources and tax dollars were wasted and more importantly the future of innocent people just trying to be college students and get a degree were subjected to dangerous social experiments. One may point to what happened at Virginia Tech and other campuses as arguments for what my classmates suffered, but over the past 50 years there have been roughly 20 campus shooting incidents. Statistically a person is more than 25 times as likely to be killed in a lightning strike.

The amount of people in my program "observing" was clearly overkill and the ramifications are yet to be fully revealed not only for me, but also my classmates given what very well could surface one day. Surveillance is one thing, social experiments and collection of data on innocents without warrants to be kept until who knows when is against our constitution, against our national values, a waste of money and our law enforcement resources. Something needs to be done to change this.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to

my email address
my website

Dossier G20
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