You have the right to remain silent.
It is more than just a line on law enforcement reality shows. It is a part of your Miranda rights. It is one of your rights as a student and as a U.S. citizen.
You also have the right to an attorney.
“Know Your Rights”
At Kansas State, through Student Law Services, students have free access to Sarah Barr, K-State’s students’ attorney. In addition to serving students in legal needs, Barr said she also gives presentations called “Know Your Rights.”
This presentation allows students to learn about their rights in a variety of circumstances. Last week, Barr said she presented the program for an event organized by Pi Beta Phi sorority and Delta Upsilon fraternity.
Sami Powers, junior in communication sciences and disorders and vice president of administration for Pi Beta Phi, said there are only positive things to say about Barr’s presentation on student rights.
“She did a great job,” Powers said. “We had a lot of great feedback from my chapter, from (Delta Upsilon’s) chapter and from our guests that joined with us.”
Powers said she personally gained knowledge from the presentation and all students should be able to do the same.
“If I ever do get in those situations, I definitely can say that I feel more confident and I think that every student should be able to feel that way,” Powers said. “So, if (students) ever do get the chance to learn more about their rights, then I definitely think that they should take that opportunity.”
In addition to the information provided through the presentations, Barr said she always strives to entertain.
“My goal is also to inform them in a way that’s entertaining and that they’ll remember because some of the comments that I make about certain rights, they may not remember specifically ‘don’t be shady in public,’ but they’ll remember the story that I told about that,” Barr said.
Grant Hill, K-State alum and former Student Governing Association vice president, worked with Barr during his time at K-State. He said that Barr’s attitude and day-to-day interactions were helpful for students using her services.
“Her positivity and encouragement to these students whenever they can only see the darkness, and she helps them find the light and turn it into a positive, a learning experience,” Hill said.
However, Barr said that she would like to be able to help students prevent legal situations before they occur. She said she hopes to accomplish that through giving presentations such as “Know Your Rights.”
“If you don’t learn them in a safe way, like in a presentation or through one of my marketing items, it’s possible you’re going to learn them the hard way,” Barr said. “I’d rather help kids learn them before they need them and you may never need them. You may never need to know that you have the right to remain silent. I hope that’s the case, but you know what, you may and I just want students to learn those lessons before they need them.”
Hill said Barr’s passion for helping students showed through in her educational and preventative measures.
“Every day was just a blast,” Hill said. “She made every day a lot of fun. She had a passion to educate students and get the information out so that she could be more proactive in their lives instead of being reactive when they have to come in and ask for her services.”
More than an attorney
By providing these informative and proactive presentations Barr becomes more than an attorney, she said she also becomes a teacher. This is one reason that Barr said her job is perfect for her, as it combines her interests in law and teaching. She said she originally discovered the job opportunity by seeing an advertisement in the paper.
“I thought wow, that would be great because — not teaching in a classroom at all, but having that connection with students, and it just sounded like a perfect job for me, and it has been,” Barr said. “It is a perfect fit.”
She said she originally went to college to become a teacher, but ended up deciding to go to law school instead. In fact, she has several members of her family who were also lawyers.
“My grandfather, my dad’s dad, was attorney general of Kansas and was chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court,” Barr said. “Then my dad and his older brother were both lawyers and my dad went on to become a judge, then my brother and I are both lawyers.”
Because of all of this, Barr said that she has many perspectives while working in Student Law Services.
“I basically wear three hats: I’m a teacher, I’m a lawyer and I’m a mother,” Barr said.
In addition to enjoying the responsibilities of her job, Barr said that she also appreciates the campus culture.
“I just love this environment,” Barr said. “I went to Fort Hays, so when I came to work at K-State that was the first time I’d really been on campus and I like the energy of a college campus. There’s always something going on, there’s a protest about this or a speaker about that and that’s absolutely as it should be on a college campus.”
However, she said one of the most difficult parts of her job is that not all students are aware of the services she provides.
“I suppose the other difficult part of my job is having somebody come in and say ‘I had no idea you were here,’” Barr said. “I just wonder, is there a kid somewhere who’s scared? Because in five minutes, I can calm them down, reassure them, get them focused back on what’s important, which is school and it just makes me sad that maybe there’s somebody who I could be helping, that doesn’t know I’m here.”
Despite this, Barr said that she is grateful for the opportunities her job gives her at K-State. Barr said working with and educating students about their rights is what she loves about her job.
“I am the luckiest lawyer because I get to do something that I’m passionate about, and that’s teaching students and representing them, and I get to do it on the best college campus in the nation,” Barr said. “Look at me, I’m tearing up. I truly, truly believe that. This is the best job in the world. I look forward to coming to it every day.”