Holly, Michigan High School Senior is Among 12 Winners of ACLU College Scholarship for Youth Activism

Affiliate: ACLU of Michigan
May 23, 2001 12:00 am

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DETROIT – – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan today announced that Alec Gibbs of Fenton Senior High School is one of 12 seniors nationwide to be awarded a $4,000 college scholarship in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the struggle to defend civil liberties.

high school student working to ensure that we keep the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.”

As a youth activist, Alec took a leadership role in speaking out about important civil liberties issues within his school. In the wake of the many zero tolerance policies that have been implemented in schools throughout the nation, Alec has spearheaded efforts to educate fellow students and school officials about administrative polices that are adverse to the rights of students.

While earning top grades at his school, Alec also volunteered his time to work on ACLU campaigns, worked on his school newspaper and wrote countless letters to the local newspaper addressing civil rights issues.

“Many people assume that teens are ambivalent about civil rights issues,”” said Alec, who will attend Michigan State University in the Fall. “”I have learned through discussions with my classmates, especially those I disagree with, that the common stereotype of apathetic and ignorant youth is not the case at all. We very much understand the issues and want to become involved.””

When Alec was a sophomore in high school, his school administration began to implement policies in reaction to the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. He and his fellow classmates were introduced to surveillance cameras and zero tolerance rules that targeted violence but had high potential for abuse by school officials.

As the opinion editor of his school paper, Alec began to educate his classmates about the civil liberties they stood to lose with the new policies being implemented.

“”Zero tolerance policies that were put into effect after Columbine have had a damaging effect on the rights of students,”” said Alec. “”Individual choice and freedom of expression are some of the most important rights we have as young adults. We stand to lose these rights and others if these rules go unchallenged.””

In addition to Alec, this year’s other recipients hail from California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Many of the students selected stood up for the rights of their peers by challenging the injustices inflicted upon them by school officials; created an ACLU chapter at their school; or interned at the ACLU affiliate office in their state. In 2000, the first year of the program, the ACLU awarded scholarships to eight high school seniors.

“”The ACLU’s College Scholarship for Youth Activism Award gives us an opportunity to recognize the courage of students like Alec and the example they set for their peers,”” said Nadine Strossen, President of the National ACLU. “”It truly is an honor to be able to provide these intelligent, resourceful and committed young people with support for their education.””

To learn about the other winners, please visit our web feature at http://archive.aclu.org/features/f052301a.html.

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