Vermont State House
Vermont State House
Universities: Differentiate Between Bad Grades and Sexual Assault
When a student is convicted of sexual assault and then dismissed from their college or university, there is little to no indication on this person’s transcript as to why they were dismissed. At some colleges and universities, a small asterisk is placed at the bottom of his/her transcript indicating they have been dismissed. This symbol is used to indicate a dismissal for poor grades as well as the commitment and conviction of sexual assault. It then falls upon the college or university viewing this person’s transcript to not only notice the small asterisk, but then to contact this person’s former institution and inquire about his/her dismissal. This is a rare occurrence. When a student is convicted of sexual assault, many college and universities are mainly concerned about getting this person off their campus, which is understandable and something that needs to happen. However, what happens when s/he transfers schools and arrives on a new campus? This person’s new school most likely is not fully aware of the reasoning behind their dismissal, and without proper knowledge of his/her past. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), 51% of all alleged rapists have at least one previous conviction, 19% have 2-4 previous convictions, 12% have 5-9 previous convictions, and 8% have 10 or more previous convictions. RAINN also states that 69% of the people that have been sexually assaulted are aged 12-34. Female college students aged 18-24 are 3 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than females in general. We are proposing a bill that would require colleges and universities to explicitly indicate that this person was dismissed for sexual assault and is therefore a danger to students, faculty, and staff not just at the college or university s/he is dismissed from but to any institution to which s/he applies. This bill would transform the admissions process allowing colleges and universities to manage risk before it even steps foot on their campus and would serve as a preventative measure to combat sexual assault on college campuses. In addition to bettering reactionary services available to someone after s/he has been sexually assaulted, there needs to be systems in place to stop it from ever occurring. Should a college or university choose to ignore this new indication to the applicant’s past, the school would then be held accountable in the event this person commits sexual assault on their campus, eliminating the possibility the college or university could claim ignorance. New York and Virginia have passed similar laws requiring their colleges and universities to indicate whether students were dismissed due to sexual assault. They had hoped to create a domino effect, with other states following their lead in the hopes that a federal law would be introduced. Unfortunately, this did not happen. By signing this petition, you are expressing support in favor of a bill that would require colleges and universities to explicitly mark on a student's transcript whether or not they have been dismissed from that institution on the grounds of sexual assault. It is time our country stops protecting the perpetrators of sexual assault and starts protecting those who have been sexually assaulted and implements measures to keep the number that have been assaulted as low as possible. explaintheasterisk.org Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/explaintheasterisk/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/explainasterisk or use hashtag #ExplainTheAsterisk Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/explaintheasterisk
Securing the Future of the Vermont State Colleges
As we move forward through the COVID-19 crisis we are seeing more and more businesses and communities being impacted negatively by this. The Vermont State Colleges System is no exception to this! This is the true test of the colleges within the system financially. Each of the four institutions that comprise the VSCS is key to the communities they surround and play an important role in the Vermont economy. Without them, this could cause irreversible damage to local economies within the state. Today we are asking for your support to pressure the Governor’s office as well as the State Legislature to give the State College System the financial support that it critically needs and deserves. The system is facing a deficit upwards of $8.5 Million for this year, which will have real and damaging implications. We are proposing that the state give the system enough money to compensate for the deficit and increase the yearly state appropriation from covering only 18% of the system’s cost to requesting an additional $25 million on top of the current appropriation. The system has been long plagued by state appropriation shortfalls from the state which has led the schools to struggle. Northern Vermont University-Lyndon, Northern Vermont University-Johnson, Castleton University, Vermont Tech, and Community College of Vermont employ over 1,800 people in every county across the state and provides an education to over 11,000 students, 83% of whom are Vermont residents. Reviving the VSCS is key in reviving rural Vermont and providing not only Vermonters but people from all over this country with the essential skills needed in today’s economy. Northern Vermont University alone contributes about $113 million to the economy. Downsizing even one campus will have significant and long-term impacts on the surrounding communities. A little about myself. My name is Patrick Wickstrom and I currently attend Northern Vermont University - Lyndon studying both Atmospheric and Climate Change Science. I also serve as the Financial Controller for our Student Government Association, am a Resident Assistant, captain of the Men’s Tennis Team, and a very active member of this campus and its community. My story starts at a young age when I learned I had a passion for weather and growing up in North Texas with our severe weather only grew that passion. When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I learned about a school called Lyndon State College, now Northern Vermont University, and fell in love with it. It was always my dream to attend Lyndon because of the quality of its Atmospheric Sciences Department. As it came time to apply to college, I only applied to one school, Lyndon. I could’ve applied and gone to Texas A&M, Texas Tech, University of Louisiana Monroe, but instead, I chose Lyndon. I knew that going to a smaller school far from home was the right choice for me. When I finally arrived in January of 2019, it was everything I thought it would be. I have made some of the best friends of my life, made connections with faculty and staff that I wouldn’t have elsewhere, and been given opportunities of a lifetime. I even stayed in the summer of 2019 to work at Mountainview Country Club because I fell in love with the state of Vermont so much. Going to school at NVU - Lyndon has been the best decision of my life and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. Supporting our school and the VSC helps students like me reach their goals and brings people to the great state of Vermont, which helps support its economy.
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. Filipino Amerasians are abandoned and neglected biracial children of Filipino mothers and American fathers (mostly members of the US armed forces). In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. As a former US colony between 1898 and 1946, the Philippines was home to millions of US soldiers and their dependents, even after its independence. Until 1992, the country hosted two of the largest US military facilities outside the US – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which played major roles during the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. In 1982 US Public Law 97-359, or the Amerasian Act of 1982, allowed children from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand to move to the US and eventually become American citizens, but those who were from the Philippines were excluded from the law, an exclusion which was upheld by the US Senate on the basis that many Filipino Amerasians were “conceived from illicit affairs and prostitution”, and were born during peacetime. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2018, HR 1520, creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Currently, blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggles to connect to their American military families. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017, HR 1520, now!
A Call For Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement
A Call For Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement in Vermont It is imperative that civilian oversight be implemented to ensure appropriate law enforcement transparency and accountability. History has taught us that in the absence of law enforcement transparency and accountability the general public has more times than not questioned law enforcement legitimacy. We have all witnessed numerous instances where the resulting loss of public trust has stood as an obstacle to the crucial working relationship required between law enforcement and the community.Click here to read more on the problem in Vermont Demands: We call on the Governor to remove Nancy Sheahan from the State Police Advisory Commission. We call on the legislature to: Conduct public hearings to address civilian oversight of law enforcement, and Remove the Attorney General from the Vermont Criminal Justice Council Legislate remedies for violation of the implementation of Fair and Impartial Policing Policy and Implicit Bias Training We call on the Attorney General (upon removal from the Council) to investigate and enforce compliance with implementation of Fair and Impartial Policing Policy and Implicit Bias Training. Go here to learn more about these demands and read your call to action. #whoswatchingVTPD *Below is the petition as originally submitted three years ago* In September 2015, two Burlington police officers shot James Hemingway, after turning off their body cameras. The Chittenden County States Attorney cleared them of any wrongdoing. A no knock warrant resulting in a civilian death in December, 2015 and yet another in March of 2016. All of these incidents are routinely investigated “internally” and by the States Attorney’s offices, with whom they work on a regular basis. In Rutland, one officer resigned and the second retired after allegations of racial profiling, discrimination, assault and other misconduct. Dozens of other cases involving law enforcement misconduct and excessive use of force have been investigated across the state over the last number of years and with very little exception a high degree of impunity. From the killings of Robert Wooodward and Joseph Fortunati to the abuses of Brian Slutz and Anton Pike, law enforcement has not been held accountable. Additionally, law enforcement have no de-escalation, appropriate use of force or anti-bias training as components of their mandatory annual in-services training requirements. Law enforcement officers literally have to be convicted of a felony to be decertified in Vermont. Appallingly, police are one profession in the state of Vermont that are not overseen by the Office of Professional Regulation, the agency that oversees over 40 professions. Even The Police Chief Magazine is on record in support of such oversight. We deserve reasonable transparency in matters where peace officers use force against civilians. Without it, it is only natural that the public will begin to question police integrity and as a result, their legitimacy. There is nothing more important for law enforcement than transparency and legitimacy, if they hope to effectively uphold their sworn obligation to protect, serve and provide public safety for all. Please sign this petition for Vermont public safety. Justice For All
U.S. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: DECLARE A CLIMATE EMERGENCY NOW
The Earth has been around for almost 5 billion years, with us modern humans evolving only about 200,000 years ago. In the 0.004% of our planet's total lifetime that we have been around for, we have managed to rip up around 46% of the trees worldwide in our luscious forests, pollute our majestic oceans and the almost-extinct coral reefs, and drive countless species to extinction. In fact, before the evolution of humans, less than 1 species per million went extinct annually; today, a devastating rate of 100-1,000 species per million are lost every year. We are destroying our planet faster than we can process the changes. These deaths are directly linked to habitat destruction by the hands of humans and climate change. According to the International Panel on Climate Change, "To keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5C this century, emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be cut by 45% by 2030." Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Climate Institute, states that the climate may become irreparable if we don't reduce carbon dioxide emmisions in the next 18 months. We must act now, if we have any hope of preserving this planet for future generations to come. Our climate is in a crisis. The U.S. federal government, one of the largest and most influential democratic governments in the world, must declare a climate crisis IMMEDIATELY. Chief executive of the World Wildlife Fund, Tanya Steele puts it clearly: "We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it." Sign this petition to stand alongside us, and our planet. We are the ones who must save our Earth. The time is now! Cover photo by NASA