Marlboro College

NewsSenator Leahy Chats Online with Persons School Students

WASHINGTON, DC - Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) recently participated in an online chat with students from The Persons School of Marlboro College, as part of their "Marketing and the Internet" course. Taking a break from the Senate floor, Leahy spoke with the students about a range of topics, including content filtering in schools, privacy online and telecommunications infrastructure.

The students are enrolled in The Persons School’s Internet Strategy Management (ISM) master’s degree program. Since the program is designed for working professionals, with classes meeting every other week and online, students hail from across New England and even across the country. A face-to-face discussion with Leahy would have been difficult to schedule, but the online chat, which used a special Webpage to allow the class and Leahy to type messages to each other, allowed Leahy to connect with students from the Capitol.

The chat was part of the class’ efforts to supplement their coursework by engaging in dialogue with experts and other people directly involved in their field. Leahy, as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is familiar with many Internet-related issues, including civil liberties and business practices. Holding the discussion - which ended when Leahy was called back to the Senate floor - online made it possible for the class to discuss a range of issues of importance to Vermont and to the nation.

In the discussion, Leahy expressed his opposition to a law that withholds federal funding from schools that do not have systems to filter student access to Internet content. It "won’t work and will cost libraries a fortune," he said. In response to a question on privacy online, Leahy also expressed concern about Carnivore, the FBI system for intercepting private email messages. "We have to be secure in our private dealings," he affirmed.

The discussion also touched on an issue of critical importance to Vermont’s economy - telecommunications infrastructure. One Persons School student pointed out that Vermont is being held back by its lack of bandwidth, and asked the Senator what steps he was taking to put Vermont in a leadership role on technology. "I helped get the start-up funds for Vermont Interactive Television," said Leahy, "and now we hope to pass a satellite bill to bring greater Internet bandwidth to Vermont."

The full text of the chat is available on Senator Leahy’s Webpage, at http://leahy.senate.gov/vermont/chats/chat010213b.html. In addition to its ISM program, The Persons School offers master’s programs in Teaching with Internet Technologies, and Internet Engineering. It is currently accepting applications for the 2001-2002 academic year. For more information, call 888-258-5665 or visit online at persons.marlboro.edu.

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