Thursday, October 22, 2009

UW Madison Students Learn About Their Rights and the Consequences of Breaking Party Laws

One hundred and ten people attended last night's Know Your Rights workshop on the UW-Madison campus Mosse Humanities Building, Room 3650. The workshop was timely: next weekend's Halloween party on State St. called Freak Fest has a long history of student arrests and law enforcement presence.

The workshop was led by ACLU of Wisconsin statewide board President and criminal defense attorney Erik Guenther of the Hurley, Burish, and Stanton Law Firm.

“I conduct ‘Know Your Rights Workshops’ regularly on college campuses around the state,” said Guenther. “It is important to me as an attorney to share my legal knowledge with college students who may not know what their constitutional rights are when they find themselves in precarious situations with police officers.”

Student leaders including Steve Horn and Jessica Johnson worked hard to publicize the event and involve other student groups as co-sponsors. Co-sponsoring UW student organizations included College Democrats, College Republicans, Young Americans for Liberty, Students for Russ Feingold, Pre-Law Society, Students for Equal Access to Law School, and Wisconsin Union Directorate Society and Politics Committee.

Members of the ACLU Student Alliance on the UW Madison campus handed out "bust" cards to attendees of Freakfest in 2008. The information on what to do if stopped by police was well-received by the holiday revelers. Down from previous years, mostly due to major changes in the organization and sponsorship of the event, last year totaled 77 arrests. Student volunteers from the ACLUSA-UW will be out distributing bust cards this year as well.

Last night's Know Your Rights workshop also enjoyed news coverage with photos in today's Badger Herald and Daily Cardinal.

To contact Attorney Erik Guenther, call (608) 257-0945 or email For more information on Know Your Rights workshops or other workshops offered by the ACLU of Wisconsin on individual rights and civil liberties, contact Community Advocate Stacy Harbaugh at (608) 469-5540.

Erik's next Know Your Rights workshop will be on the campus of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay on November 24.