Student Advisory Team: Know Your Rights and the OLCC

Phoebe Gresser /// Chief Justice

Lewis & Clark students are known for their unmatched dedication to making positive change within our school, community and world. Lewis & Clark’s student government, the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC), is one of our on-campus organizations that gives the student a voice in how our school is owned and operated. As the ASLC Chief Justice, I have had the pleasure of chairing the Student Advisory Team (STAT) which is a committee within the ASLC Judiciary. The Student Advisory Team is responsible for protecting the rights of students and keeping the student body informed of those rights.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, our goal was to improve the interactions between the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) and the Lewis & Clark student body. The OLCC is in charge of enforcing Oregon State Liquor law and one way in which they do this is by issuing citations for underaged drinking. As you can imagine, Lewis & Clark students and the OLCC don’t have the most affectionate feelings towards each other. In attempts to ease the tension between the two groups, the Student Advisory Team put on a ”Know Your Rights” forum that featured two OLCC representatives, a criminal defense attorney, and a member of Campus Safety.OLCC Logo

After this panel discussion we realized that there were systematic issues within the OLCC that have created and sustained tensions between students and the OLCC. The first issue was the fact that OLCC officers were able to patrol on campus/in residential areas while undercover, meaning that they did not wear uniforms and they drove in unmarked cars. This became an issue of safety because these virtually unidentifiable officers had the power to detain individuals suspected of drinking underage. The second issue is the fact that OLCC officers have the ability to issue Minor in Possession citations without breathalyzer or field sobriety tests. This makes proving sobriety and challenging citations in court nearly impossible.

The Student Advisory Team decided that improving the relationship between the Lewis & Clark student body and the OLCC required increasing the legal and physical protection of students during interactions with OLCC officers. We concluded that to do this, the following changes needed to happen: mandated marked cars and identifiable uniforms for OLCC officers as well as required field sobriety tests as a prerequisite for Minor in Possession citations. So, that’s what we set out to do.

We discussed our OLCC reform initiative with Ann Lininger, our representative in the Oregon House of Representatives, Lewis & Clark officials, and OLCC representatives. At the end of the Spring semester, all previously mentioned parties came together for a meeting. During this meeting the OLCC representatives presented us with the new identifiable uniforms and car decals that are now mandated for their officers statewide. The support and encouragement from ASLC allowed the Student Advisory Team to influence a positive change in state policy that improves the safety and security of Lewis and Clark students during interactions with the OLCC.

This year the Student Advisory Team is looking forward to continuing to work with the legal bodies that affect the lives of students. We are planning to continue pushing for field sobriety tests as a prerequisite for Minor in Possession citations. We are also planning to hold various “Know Your Rights” discussions including a workshop on the rights of protesters, Oregon Liquor Law, Oregon Marijuana Law, Landlord/Tenant Law and Bike Law. We are excited about all of the potential that this upcoming year holds. The Student Advisory Team is a committee of students who are passionate about the rights of their peers, if this kind of work sounds interesting to you, please consider joining the Student Advisory Team or the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark.

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