Felony Charges Dropped Against Young Undocumented Student at Heart of Immigration Debate

A nearly three-year legal battle has come to an end for a young undocumented immigrant whose 2010 arrest sparked a national debate over U.S. immigration policy, particularly the right of undocumented immigrants to attend public universities. Thursday, a Cobb County, Georgia, judge dismissed a false-swearing charge against the now 23-year-old Jessica Colotl stemming from her arrest on March 29, 2010. A Kennesaw State University (KSU) police officer stopped Colotl, a KSU student, for a traffic infraction on campus. She was arrested the following day after failing to produce for authorities a valid driver’s license. Colotl’s case has been widely publicized nationally, drawing renewed attention to the use of 287(g) programs, which allow local police agencies to enforce immigration law and detain suspected undocumented immigrants.

A Long Restorative Road to Justice and Graduation

Almost 18 months ago I wrote my first opinion piece. Predictably perhaps, it was about restorative justice, the topic I have covered the most. Today, if I can manage to get myself together, I will drive to Kennesaw State University and receive a master’s degree in conflict management. Yesterday, I hurried to work at the Georgia Conflict Center, scrambling as usual to get my final plans in place for the day’s work. I spent nearly two hours at the high school where my colleague Gwen O’Looney and I have been meeting with students this semester.

A Thanksgiving Reflection: How Advocacy Can Make a Difference

Early this week, I was having Thanksgiving dinner with my fiancée. She is on her way home for the holiday, and I am staying in Georgia to work on my final paper for school and take care of a few other tasks, so we shared the meal a few days early. Before we began to eat, we took a few moments to talk about what we have been grateful for this past year. It was a pretty long list for both of us, and touched on our relationships, our work, good health, and many other things. It seems that gratitude has been coming up a lot in my life lately, in discussions with friends and online.

Award Winning “Juvenile-in-Justice” Photographer to Speak on Art and the Incarceration of Young People

Tuesday, Juvenile-in-Justice: Photographs by Richard Ross will premiere at Kennesaw State University (KSU), with a public lecture by the 2012 recipient of the National Magazine Award for News and Documentary Photography scheduled at 5 p.m. in the Prillaman Hall auditorium. For five years, Ross visited more than 350 detention centers, treatment facilities, juvenile courtrooms and maximum-security lock-down shelters, documenting the daily lives of America’s incarcerated young people. Ross’s work, organized by the Nevada Museum of Art and sponsored by the Wilhelm Hoppe Family Trust, was recently featured in Harper’s Magazine, in addition to making appearances on Wired.com and Picture Dept., a site operated by the photo editors at Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Earlier this year, ProPublica listed “Juvenile-in-Justice” as one of the year’s five best investigative reports on prisons. And the American Society of Magazine Editors (AMSE) and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism praised Ross’ photo essay, calling it the best news and documentary photography of 2012.

Richard Ross: Juvenile-in-Justice Photo Exhibit Reviewed

Juvenile-in-Justice, an exhibition of 50 large-scale color prints by award-winning photographer Richard Ross, will open at the Sturgis Library Art Gallery at Kennesaw State University, in Kennesaw, Ga., on Oct. 9, 2012. Ross’s photographs, based on five years of work interviewing and photographing young people involved in the juvenile justice system, document the realities of life in juvenile justice facilities across the country. The young people featured in these photographs have different levels of involvement in the criminal justice

system—some have been tried and convicted, while others are being held in detention while waiting for the gears of the system to turn. A variety of settings are also featured, from segregation cells to recreation areas.

Dreaming of a Better and Legal Future

My husband, Steve, and his first wife, Laurene, moved to Eastern Europe shortly after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. The day before they boarded the plane to move to Bratislava, Slovakia, Steve and Laurene discovered that they were expecting, unexpectedly, twins!  Since Bratislava’s medical care was still behind those of Western Europe and the birth of twins is a higher risk pregnancy, they chose to go to Vienna, Austria for the pregnancy care and birth. Early one morning Laurene’s water broke and they made a harried run across the Danube River for the Slovakia/Austria border. Before long David and Paul made their dramatic debut about a minute apart via C-Section. Steve and Laurene planned on living  there long-term, but a breast cancer diagnosis short-circuited those dreams. At six months of age, the twins were brought to America for the first time.

Of Organ Donors and Social Media

No one really questions how effective social media can be these days. Just look back across the wreckage of any number of despotic regimes in the Arab World or the 70 million plus views of a YouTube posting that may help lead to the downfall of a particularly brutal madman in central Africa and the Invisible Children at his mercy. Nor do you have to look afar for the good it can do, and in rapid fashion. For the several hundred friends and acquaintances of 19-year-old Richard Bland, a scheduled visit by a gang of four young men from the now-cancelled MTV series The Buried Life was used to jazz up a little interest in the importance of organ donations and specifically young Richard’s need for a kidney. The idea to engineer the mash up of social media and the visit by the Buried Life crew to Kennesaw State University north of Atlanta, sprang to life in the minds of some fraternity boys on a recent evening.

Experts Speak About Addiction Recovery for Young Adults

At the National Collegiate Recovery Conference Wednesday at Kennesaw State University, Michael Fishman, Director of the Young Adult Program at Talbott Recovery Campus in Atlanta, neatly summed up everything he had learned in 22 years of treating addiction in young adults. The recurring theme of his keynote address: It’s complicated. “Most young adults are generally poly-substance abusers,” he said. They aren’t just using marijuana; they’re also drinking, Fishman says. It’s not just opioids, it’s opioids and anti-depressants or any other combination.

MTV’s Star on the Struggles of Being a Teen Mom

Maci Bookout, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., is anything but just another 20-year-old community college student. For the last four years, virtually every moment of Bookout’s life has been captured on camera. After responding to an advertisement on Craig’s List, Bookout found herself cast on the MTV program “16 and Pregnant,” a controversial “documentary” that led to the equally divisive — yet unquestionably popular — spin-off series “Teen Mom.”

Bookout is, for all intents and purposes, a media darling. Fans of her television exploits have posted “video tributes” to her and her son on YouTube, her Twitter account is followed by thousands upon thousands of “Teen Mom” devotees, and she makes regular appearances in the pages of numerous supermarket tabloid papers. Although she frequently rebuffs her “stardom,” it’s quite apparent that, in the eyes of many, many viewers, Bookout is indeed a bona-fide television celebrity.

Food Pantry Helps Students in Need at Metro Atlanta University

As the holidays draw closer, while many college students are spending late nights preparing for final exams and finishing projects, some students are just worried about finding the money to pay for food. At one college in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, students struggling between paychecks have access to a donated food pantry where they can stock up on two-weeks of food. The Feed the Future program, run by the Psychiatric and Social Services Department of Kennesaw State University and the KSU Staff Senate, feeds up to 30 hungry students each month during the fall and spring semesters, according to the program’s director, Tao Bartleson Mosley, a professor and social worker at the campus health clinic. “Demand varies by month,” she said. “Summer is slow.