After student visas were discovered to be the device used by several of the September 11 terrorists, the FBI has been snooping around Middle Eastern college kids. A survey released before Thanksgiving by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers found that the FBI has contacted more than 200 colleges and universities around the country since September 11, pulling records for attendance, enrolled classes, and e-mail correspondences.

Under federal law, universities are required to open their records to the agents. What has drawn attention to Middle Eastern students is that several terrorists entered and remained in the country under the guise of a student visa. Except for a handful of demands from the FBI, the requests were not accompanied by subpoenas. Moreover, according to the universities surveyed by AACRAO, only in one out of every twenty incidents did the school inform the student that he was under scrutiny.

Of the schools interviewed by the Mer-cury, only the Registrar's Office of Portland Community College has been contacted by federal agents. Portland State University assured us that none of their students were under surveillance.

But even at Oregon schools whose registrar offices have not been contacted by federal agents, university students have reported that they have been questioned directly. At the University of Oregon, where a core of thirty Middle Eastern students make up the Muslim Association, seventeen claim to have been interviewed about their political viewpoints and shown photos of other students. Eleven of the students study agriculture or aviation.

Meanwhile, no fewer than three bills are currently being considered in the U.S. Senate regarding immigration and student visas. The most alarming comes from the normally levelheaded Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif). Under a bill she plans to introduce, students from Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Libya--as well as Cold War enemies Cuba and North Korea--would be barred from entering the U.S.