Thursday, April 29, 2010

UC Berkeley Faculty Association Statement on Student Judicial Process

Another statement, this time from the UC Berkeley Faculty Association, rebuking the the administration regarding both the Code of Student Conduct and its implementation:
Dear Chancellor Birgeneau, EVC Breslauer and Dean Poullard,

The Berkeley Faculty Association joins the Northern California ACLU, the Campus Rights Project, the Berkeley Faculty Petition on the Office of Student Conduct Procedures, and the UC Berkeley Divisional Council in expressing profound concern about the fairness of disciplinary proceedings against student protesters at this time. We note that several flaws in the current procedures cast doubt on the legitimacy of the charges and the hearings. They include: the failure to afford due process to students charged, the imposition of sanctions without adjudication, the failure to specify evidence necessary to ground the charges, the inadequate protection of the right to protest, and the failure of the Office of Student Conduct to follow its own procedures. We urge the cessation of all proceedings against student protesters on the basis of flawed procedure. Before any further disciplinary actions are take, we call for a re-engagement with and revision of the student code of conduct that honors rights of peaceful protest.


Wendy Brown
Co-Chair, Berkeley Faculty Association

Chris Rosen
Co-Chair, Berkeley Faculty Association

Richard Walker
Vice Chair, Berkeley Faculty Association

Concerned Citizens of Oakland at the Teachers Strike

From Indybay:
The night before the Oakland Teachers Strike, a group locked down all perimeter entrances to 20 Oakland Public High Schools, Charter Schools, and Middle Schools using glue. The actions were done in solidarity with the demands of the teachers of Oakland and in defense of Public Education. School doors were locked to ensure schools stayed closed during the strike and to stop scab labor brought in by the District administration.

We Demand:
* Resources be removed from excessive administration and private consultants and given back to students and the classroom!
* Maintain low class sizes so children and teachers will have more effective learning environments!
* Recruit and keep good teachers. Increase the salaries of teachers in Oakland!
* Respect our educators and the needs of students. Stop one-size-fits-all curriculum!

In solidarity,
- Concerned residents of Oakland

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

RAZA Center Condemns Student Conduct Charges

Posted on Facebook:
Hello community,

The following is an e-mail/letter that the Raza Center and the Raza coordinators (together and individually) will be sending to the Dean of Students in support of the student protesters. In our last general body meeting we were able to hear the students and we learned that they are being offered an unjust 6 month suspension. We also decided that we would support them by sending this e-mail/ letter. So we worked on it and we encourage you to read through it and shape it to your Organization or to you personally. Also if you can encourage your members to also send this e-mail that would bombard Dean Poullard with letters & e-mails so he feels pressured to listen to our concerns. If anyone needs help with their letter please ask me, I am making myself available for this matter. Our goals is to deliver and send all the e-mails before Finals start. Our community members need our help to be able to stay at Cal. If time is a problem I can also send every org liaison an e-mail/letter already set just for them to send. Your support and cooperation will be greatly appreciated. Come by the Center to drop off your letters please!

The e-mail should be sent to Dean Poullard-
and Cc'd to:
Chancellor Birgeneau-
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs:
Mayor of Berkeley Tom Bates:
Oakland Tribune Local news editor:

RAZA Coordinators 09-10

To the Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard,

On behalf of the Raza Recruitment and Retention center we would like to express our concern with the student conduct actions that are being taken against the students who were involved in the Wheeler Occupation on November 20, 2010. We are highly disappointed and ashamed that the administration has not acted to rectify the unfair actions that your office has taken to date.

A number of the students who are unjustly being offered a suspension without due process are active members in the Latino/Latina community on campus. As you hopefully are aware, the percentage of Latino/Latina students on this campus by no means begins to come close to the percentage of Latinos/Latinas that populate the state of California. Since 1976 the Raza Recruitment and Retention Center has worked to demystify higher education for Latino/Latina students and for students of color in general. Through outreach and recruitment, the Center has been able to create a path to higher education for tens of thousands of students since 1976. Our retention efforts serve to ensure that Latino/Latina students succeed academically and continue on to pursue a Graduate or Professional Program. Unfortunately only 1% of Latino/Latina students at Cal actually move on to Graduate School. Furthermore, our retention and community building efforts serve to build bridges and to provide ourselves with the support and trust that unfortunately Cal falls short in addressing.

We understand that the events that took place on November 20, 2009 might not have been the most appealing to the administration, but that day those students inspired our community and the broader Cal community to get involved and make their voices heard to the administration and to Sacramento. Seven of our community members are now facing an unprecedented suspension that will ultimately harm them, their families, and the community. As a community of color we can tell you that only a small number of us are given the opportunity to attend a four year university, and so these suspensions will have a major (and disproportionate) impact on these students and our communities of color.

At this point we do not know how else to address this problem, but to go to the administrator whose role is to serve us as students. As the Dean of Students, your role is to serve all students regardless of political or activist involvement. We can think of various occasions where students have been involved in altercations that required a suspension or even an expulsion, yet no student conduct actions were taken. On the other hand, the university is punishing a group of students who did what we learn many times in our classrooms about the history and tradition of activism of this University. Day to day professors, lecturers, and Graduate Student Instructors challenge us to think about how we can change the world and how we must take action. We learn of social movements like the Civil Rights Movement and the Chicano/Chicana Movement and how these movements were greatly impacted by student involvement. We learn of the bill that was written by the Associated Students of the University of California that divested funds from South African Apartheid. We learn these issues, yet you and the administrations expects us to stay quiet when we are directly being harmed by a 32% fee increase that was proposed by people who do not have education backgrounds and who are only seeking monetary benefits. UC Berkeley has never been known for its passive students, instead our predecessors have been known for their passion and desire to stand up against injustice regardless of who they are fighting. We want you to understand how invested we are in our community and how much we will fight to keep our community members here. We will not be silenced by an unfair bureaucratic process that harms the communities who have struggled the most to reach a higher education.

With that said, the Raza Recruitment and Retention Center demands that the suspensions be rescinded and that the administration protect and serve the students who make up the University of California Berkeley. We will fully support the students through these harsh times and we will continue to advocate for their stay. We will continue to lobby Mayor Tom Bates, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and any elected official we have to contact in order to have our concerns heard. We will also inform the broader Bay Area community by contacting the media. We have cc'd Chancellor Robert Birgenau, Vice Chancellor of Equity & Inclusion Gibor Basri, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande, Mayor Tom Bates and Congresswoman Barbara Lee in order to stress how important our concerns are. We have not yet received any support or an audience from administration regarding this issue, so we hope our words can change that.

We refuse to condone or accept this process and on behalf of the university and our community, we will continue to hold you accountable for the duties of your position. We look forward to hearing from you promptly to work on a solution that will be acceptable to our community.

UC Berkeley Faculty: Suspend the Code, Drop the Charges!

About 130 UC Berkeley faculty have signed a letter to Chancellor Birgeneau demanding the suspension of the Code of Student conduct as well as the cessation of charges against student protesters.
April 20, 2010 (download pdf version)

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau
Office of the Chancellor
200 California Hall #1500
Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer
200 California Hall

Office of Student Conduct
2536 Channing Way
Building E. 2nd Floor

We, the undersigned faculty, call for the immediate cessation of all proceedings against the students involved in protest actions that are currently underway by the OSC. Such proceedings should be suspended until and unless the serious procedural issues that currently mar these proceedings can be fully addressed and rectified. Because it is clear that no fair evaluation can be conducted under these circumstances, we call for the immediate halt to all disciplinary proceedings against student protestors following from the events on December 11th and November 20th of this academic year.

It has become abundantly clear in the last weeks that these proceedings are not only seriously flawed, but that no just outcome can emerge from these procedures in their current form. The problems as we see them pertain to two separate but interlocking issues: the version of the code of student conduct that is currently used and the specific applications of that code in these specific cases. These flawed applications arise from inadequacies in the code itself and from flagrant instances of bad judgment on the part of those conducting the inquiries. These egregious applications of the code have raised serious questions whether those charged with directing a fair disciplinary review have overreached their mandate and contravened both legal and educational standards to which we, as a community, are bound. The rights to political protest, guaranteed by the University’s commitment to free speech and rights of assembly are paramount in this context and must provide the framework within which charges against any of these students are assessed. We note with grave concern the lack of a sufficient effort to balance these concerns with the alleged offenses as well as the failure to develop and apply appropriate measures for assessing these charges.

Our concerns below this pertain both to clear procedural flaws in the existing code and to unjust applications in these cases:

1.) Failure to Afford Due Process: The first and most glaring procedural flaw is that UC rules regarding student conduct do not afford due process rights that comply with established legal standards. We note that (a) various courts have held that procedural protections are required in the context of administrative disciplinary proceedings and that those decisions have relevance in these cases and (b) where such disciplinary proceedings lead to the conclusion that criminal charges are warranted, or where students suffer other material deprivations, such as suspension, expulsion, or the withholding of the diploma, students clearly ought to be entitled to legal counsel who could review the evidence and present counter-argument where necessary. The Campus Rights Project, the ACLU of Northern California, and many of our own faculty and advisors in law have expressed concern about this legal failing.

2.) Impositions of Sanctions without Adjudication: We see clear evidence of unjust applications of this flawed policy. In the case of two students, Angela Miller and Zachary Bowin, sanctions were imposed prior to the convening of any formal disciplinary review, and thus to any determination of culpability. In such cases, due process procedures were fully abandoned with unjust consequences. Although the OSC has described these measures as interim restraints, they are, in fact, the equivalent of non-adjudicated punishment.

3.) No Specification of the Evidence Necessary to Ground Charges: A second procedural flaw, clearly the result of the failure to afford due process protection, is highlighted by the clear miscarriage of justice committed in these two cases: for example, the code does not adequately specify the kinds of evidence and the means of cross-examination on the basis of which any charge may be articulated or adjudicated. Nor does it allow for an advisor to have a meaningful role at the time of hearing. As a result, allegations that certain students are a “threat” to campus life or have engaged in “physical abuse” seriously impugn the reputation of students, and this is especially alarming that the students were given no evidence at the time to support the allegation, and given no opportunity to present counter-evidence or to consult legal experts. Indeed, at no time has a clear evidentiary basis been made available for the allegations against these students. As we all know, such allegations have long-term effects on the capacity of students to finish their education and to gain employment. As a result, such allegations should either be corroborated by standard processes of evidentiary review and disputation, or dropped altogether. As it stands, there is no basis in evidence for these charges, and the rights of students have been fully suspended or denied.

Indeed, no legally acceptable standard of evidence has been established in the OSC adjudication of these cases. The accusation and the punishment seem to come at the same time (recalling the worst scenarios from Kafka). We call upon the OSC to develop standards that would comply with existing legal standards demanding a preponderance of evidence as well as clear and convincing grounds for any further disciplinary actions. We deplore allegations that presume guilt by association, or which single out political viewpoints as grounds for sanctions (recalling the worst scenarios from McCarthyism).

4.) Inadequate Protection of the Right to Protest: No explanation of the Student Code of Conduct was made public and available to students in advance of the protest actions of November 20th or December 11th. On December 11th, the students were clearly protesting with the explicit understanding that they had the permission from the University to express their views publicly in a protest action. If and when that permission was rescinded, it should have been directly communicated to those participating in the protest actions. The failure to communicate policy and the retractable conditions of permission in this instance foregrounds the need for structured and stable lines of communication between administration and students on such matters. It also calls attention to the arbitrary power of the administration to grant rights of protest and to withdraw them when these rights should be more securely and consistently protected by the clearly communicated policies of the university. Indeed, the tradition of civil disobedience belongs squarely to both traditions of academic freedom and freedom of speech. Since students had reason to assume that they were operating under an administrative ratification of those very rights, they had no intention to trespass, but understood themselves as exercising rights of protest fundamental to free speech at the university.

5.) Failure by OSC to Follow its Own Procedures: We call attention to the fact that the OSC neither honors its own timelines nor holds itself accountable to its own procedures, which implies that certain rogue judgments, preemptive punishments, and “rehabilitative” methods are being pursued without any warrant in university code or existing law. We deplore the practice of preemptive punishment that works through a sham “ educational” model, as is evident in the recent settlement offers that couple suspension with an “essay assignment” that requires students to perform a political self-criticism, indeed, to take a prescribed political point of view, such as the appropriate limits of the freedoms guaranteed to journalists (as was done to Josh Wolf, the journalist who covered the Wheeler Hall events from within the building and with the explicit approval of his dean). This disciplinary action not only makes use of a fully discredited educational model (one that is better described as “inculcation” and does not even reserve that respect for diverse viewpoints that defines the fundament of liberal education) that we, as educators, find fully deplorable and would never accept as part of any educational institution worth the name. As a result, any finding on the basis of such a flawed conduct should be invalidated, and would be invalidated in the course of any legal review. We ask that the administration cease these practices immediately.

Hence, because the disciplinary procedures have proven to be pervasively flawed for all the reasons cited above, we call for the suspension of all charges against the student protesting on December 11th as well as those protesting on November 20th. In addition, we ask that the Student Code of Conduct be revised with the participation of educators and legal advisors to bring the code into conformity with legal standards of due process for students, and establish clear and legitimate evidentiary bases for any allegations. These rights are severely compromised by the procedural flaws and evidence of overreach and misconduct on the part of those conducting the reviews. We maintain that the current disciplinary procedures are so badly flawed that they should be abandoned at this time. Because no sanctions should be imposed until a review has been successfully concluded on the basis of a just application of legally sound policy, and we have neither a sound policy nor a just application at this time, we call for the cessation of all disciplinary proceedings. Of utmost importance to any such policy revision will be the commitment of the university to rights of free speech, which include rights to peaceful protest. If these rights are arbitrarily suspended or abandoned without reflection or if they are restricted without clear justification and communication, we will have dishonored the tradition of free and open expression that has distinguished this campus for decades. Let us not accept a situation where arbitrary power makes a mockery of those fundamental and enduring rights that we are surely bound to honor and protect.
Signatures below the fold.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What Happened at UPR?

After all those claims that 19 university guards had been injured by the protesters comes this from the Puerto Rico Daily Sun (via):
University of Puerto Rico students successfully, and almost without a significant incident, paralyzed academic and administrative operations at the Río Piedras campus Wednesday after university officials had vowed to keep the institution open.

A group of several dozen students who had stayed within campus premises since Tuesday night joined others coming into the campus on Wednesday morning and successfully locked the gate on Barbosa Avenue as early as 6:00 am.

At the gate five or six university guardsmen had tried to stop the students in a kind of tug o’ war with them to control the gate. In the melee some of the guardsmen and students were crushed between one another and exchanged some blows. Meanwhile, several others were pepper sprayed in a confusing incident.

Twenty minutes later the same group of students had crossed the campus and locked UPR’s main gate at Ponce de León Avenue without incident.

“By insisting in keeping the gates open the administration is trying to provoke a confrontation,” said Student Negotiating Committee member Adriana Mulero, who Wednesday morning called the first of the two days stoppage “a success.”

“They [university officials] expected we would come around 4:00 am to close the campus main gate. Instead, we took refuge at the university itself – the way it is meant to be – last night and this morning proceeded to close the gate on Barbosa Avenue,” explained Mulero, also a member of the Public Education Student Defense Committee.
Mulero informed the students had organized themselves to occupy the UPR “from within while avoiding confrontation.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Erupting Insurrection

From the Reykjavik Grapevine:
By one swift, decisive act, it has paralyzed Europe’s airline industries for almost a week, delayed 64 thousand flights (and counting), affecting millions of travellers, reminding a whole continent that geography and distance still exist, while lessening the airlines’ carbon footprint by an amount equal to the annual output of several smaller states combined, and possibly hindering the meagre 1% economic growth expected in the EU zone in 2010. Surely Eyjafjallajökull (“Ay! You fergot la yoghurt!” or just EJ for short) is an anarchist.

Unlimited Jurisdiction?

What are the boundaries of the public university? Where is the university? Offices, territory, capital projects; students, workers, professors... These questions take on a more concrete form when we think about the spatialization of jurisdiction. If the public university is attempting to install a parallel (and unconstitutional) system of rule, a mechanism of double jeopardy to target specific sets of political actors, then it becomes important to ask: where does this space begin and end?

At UC Berkeley, a student from UC Santa Cruz is apparently being charged with a student conduct violation for allegedly participating in the attempted occupation of the Architects & Engineers Building (Capital Projects) on November 18, 2009. Both campuses are of course part of the UC system, but even so, it seems strange that the student would be charged by UC Berkeley's Office of Student Conduct.

Now, a UC Irvine graduate student has been charged with student conduct violation for allegedly participating an action that took place at a CSU campus: the occupation/reclamation of the humanities building at CSU Fullerton on March 3. This cross-system claim to jurisdiction actionable pushes the boundaries of administrative power.

Appendix I: Jurisdiction, as defined by UC Berkeley's Code of Student Conduct (in its most recent formulation, edited February 2010 to target student protesters):
A. Generally

These provisions govern student conduct on, or as it relates to University property, or at official University functions and University-sponsored programs conducted away from the campus. University property is defined for purposes of this Code as all land, buildings, facilities or other grounds or structures, or any item in possession of or owned, used, maintained or controlled by the University or designated by the campus as subject to these policies, including the International House. University property also includes computers and network systems owned, maintained or controlled by the University or funded by University budgets or designated by the campus as subject to these policies.

B. Off-Campus Conduct

1. The Geographic “Box”

Student conduct that occurs off University property but within the geographic area immediately adjacent to the campus is subject to the Code. This includes all property bounded by Virginia Street on the north, Shattuck Avenue on the west, and Derby Street on the south. The eastern boundary, as it runs from north to south, is comprised of La Loma Avenue, Gayley Road, Prospect Street (between Orchard Steps and Dwight Way) and Warring Street, and includes property situated along both the east and west sides of said streets.

2. Other Off-Campus Conduct

Student conduct that occurs off University property and not within the area described in Geographic Box (page 15) and Conduct on Other UC Campuses (page 16) is subject to the Code where it a) adversely affects the health, safety, or security of any member of the University community, or the mission of the University, or b) involves academic work or any records, or documents of the University.

In determining whether or not to exercise jurisdiction over such conduct, Student Conduct and Community Standards will consider the seriousness of the alleged offense, the risk of harm involved, whether the victim(s) are members of the campus community and/or whether the off-campus conduct is part of a series of actions that occurred both on and off University property.

3. Conduct on Other UC Campuses

A student at one campus of the University, who is accused of violation of University policies or campus regulations on another campus of the University, or at an official function of that campus, shall be subject to the disciplinary procedures of either the former or the latter campus as agreed by designees of both campuses. The imposition of any recommendations for disciplinary sanctions arising from these procedures must be reviewed and approved by both campuses before the sanctions are imposed.
Appendix II: The jurisdiction of student conduct at UC Santa Cruz:
101.10 Jurisdiction

The UC Santa Cruz campus shall have jurisdiction over the conduct of students and student organizations, which occurs on university property or in connection with official university functions.

In addition, the campus shall have discretion to exercise jurisdiction over conduct which occurs off-campus and which would violate student conduct and discipline policies or regulations if the conduct occurred on campus when the alleged misconduct indicates the student may be a threat to the safety or security of members of the university community or university property, functions, or facilities.

For example, the campus may choose to exercise jurisdiction over off-campus incidents where the alleged misconduct includes, but is not limited to:
a. rape or sexual assault, any other physical assault, threats of violence, or conduct that threatens the health or safety of any person;

b. stalking or sexual harassment;

c. possession or use of weapons, explosives, or destructive devices;

d. manufacture, sale, or distribution of controlled substances;

e. hate crimes;

f. hazing;

g. conduct which would constitute a felony, including burglary, robbery, theft, etc.; and

h. conduct which egregiously and/or repeatedly has negatively impacted members of the surrounding off-campus community and which violates federal, state or local laws/ordinances; or conduct which severely impacts or strains emergency response abilities in the surrounding community.
In determining whether or not to exercise off-campus jurisdiction in such cases, the campus may consider the seriousness of the alleged offense, the risk of harm involved, whether the victim(s) are members of the campus community and/or whether the off-campus conduct is part of a series of actions, which occurred both on, and off-campus.
Appendix III: Student conduct jurisdiction at UC Irvine:

In addition to conduct which occurs on University property or in connection with official university functions, the University shall have the discretion to exercise jurisdiction over off-campus behavior if it 1)adversely affects the health, safety, or security of any member of the campus community or 2) adversely affects the interests of the University. In determining whether or not to exercise off-campus jurisdiction, the University will consider the seriousness of the alleged harm, the risk of harm involved, whether the victim(s) are members of the campus community and/or whether the off-campus conduct is part of a series of actions which occurred both on and off campus. The discretion to exercise off-campus jurisdiction includes but is not limited to the following behavior:

Sec. 102.08-Physical abuse, including but not limited to, rape, sexual assault, sex offenses, and other physical assault; threats of violence; or conduct that threatens the health or safety of any person. (See Appendix E)

Sec. 102.09-Sexual harassment; unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature (see section 102.09 below for details).

Sec. 102.10-Stalking behavior in which an individual willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly engages in a knowing course of conduct directed at a specific person which reasonably and seriously alarms, torments, or terrorizes the person, and which serves no legitimate purpose.

Sec. 102.12-Hazing or any method of initiation or pre-initiation into a campus organization or any activity engaged in by the organization or members of the organization which causes, or is likely to cause, bodily danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to any student or other person. (See Appendix F).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

UCB Law Students & Attorneys Issue Demand Letter

Last Tuesday, UC Berkeley law students from the Campus Rights Project held a press conference in which they delivered a demand letter (PDF here) drafted by the law office of Siegel and Yee. Building on the public letter sent by the ACLU of Northern California last week, the demand letter details the numerous ways in which the UCB Code of Student Conduct fails to meet the constitutional requirements for due process. It concludes by noting: "If you fail to respond [to each of the alleged constitutional violations] or respond with a negative, we will be forced to vigorously and fully investigate each client's legal options so that they can fully exercise their rights." In other words, there's a lawsuit a-comin'...

This is the text of the press release issued upon delivering the letter:
On Tuesday April 13, 2010, following months of pressing the University to respect the rights of students and adhere to its own policies, the Campus Rights Project issued a letter from partnering attorneys to the Office of Student Conduct on behalf the students facing charges. The letter called for the dismissal of charges, or for the timely resolution of the charges in accordance with students’ constitutional and statutory rights. Should the University fail to respond, the letter states that the attorneys will be “forced to vigorously and fully investigate each client’s legal options so that they can fully exercise their rights.”

In response to the University of California, Berkeley Administration's initiation of disciplinary charges against student activists who participated in the demonstrations during Fall semester 2009, UC Berkeley law students established the Campus Rights Project, an initiative aimed to ensure that the Administration respects students’ due process rights in Student Conduct proceedings. Since the beginning of 2010, over a dozen UC Berkeley law students have been advising over 65 UC Berkeley students in Office of Student Conduct proceedings under the supervision of law faculty and local practitioners, including a number of Berkeley Law alumni.

UC Berkeley’s rules accord students some due process rights but fall short of what is required by law. Campus Rights Project has observed numerous violations of students’ constitutional rights, as well as those guaranteed by state and federal law, and the University’s own Student Code of Conduct. Violations include inadequate notice of charges, as well as a complete absence of specific facts or evidence in support of the charges. Carmen Comsti, a first-year law student with the Campus Rights Project, stated that “UCB Administration is abusing the disciplinary process, which undermines student, worker, and faculty resistance to layoffs, furloughs, service cut-backs, and fee hikes. They are clamping down on student activism by retaliating against students fighting for quality public education in order to create fear and inhibit political speech by students.”

Since the protests on campus last semester, the University has suspended its timeline for resolving charges against students, leaving many students waiting for answers. In a letter issued to the University last week, the ACLU of Northern California outlined its serious concerns with the UCB Student Code of Conduct and the violations of students’ due process rights throughout the disciplinary process. The letter concludes that "the University has not met constitutional standards for due process of law in its disciplinary proceedings."

UCB Administration has also denied students access to counsel in disciplinary hearings. While the University has no obligation to provide representation, courts have held that universities are required to allow students to independently retain counsel for conduct hearings. Contrary to these judicial rulings, the University maintains that under the Code of Student Conduct a student's representative is only permitted to speak only at the discretion of the hearing panel and has gone as far as to exclude attorneys from the process. “As future attorneys who believe that the right to counsel is a fundamental protection against state power, and thus a bulwark of democratic freedom, we are especially concerned with how a prohibition on lawyer representation implicates the basic fairness of any Student Conduct proceeding,” said Kiva Schrager, a first-year law student with the Campus Rights Project.

In the case of two students, Angela Miller and Zachary Bowin, the office issued a sanction of interim suspension, prohibiting them from entering any part of the Berkeley campus, and from “any and all contact, ant any time, for any reason, and/or by any manner…with any faculty, staff or students.” The University imposed these sanctions before either student had a formal hearing, causing them o miss their final exams. In the case of Ms. Miller, the University attempted to evict her from her Berkeley Student Cooperative apartment. According to Daniela Urban, Campus Rights Project member and first-year law student, “perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the panel’s decision was the utter lack of evidence it cited to support the only charge at issue: whether Ms. Miller is a threat to the health and safety of the campus community.”

Despite the concerns that have been raised regarding both the content of University’s Student Code of Conduct, as well as its application, the Office of Student Conduct continues to levy unprecedented sanctions against students.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Press Conference for Campus Rights Project, 4/13 @ 1:30pm

On Tuesday, April 13th, at 1:30 PM, representatives from the Campus Rights Project will be formally delivering a demand letter to the Office of Student Conduct insisting that OSC respect student protesters' rights to due process. The delivery will be accompanied by a press conference. Please come out and show your support for the students facing extra-legal prosecutions that could result in seven month suspensions.

OSC is located at 2536 Channing Way, in the parking lot across from Peoples Park.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

UC Administration Response to ACLU

From the Chronicle:
The interim suspensions are "remarkable examples of an abuse of University authority," wrote ACLU attorney Julia Harumi Mass to Birgeneau and Chris Kutz, chair of the Academic Senate.

[Mike] Smith, the campus counsel, would not comment on students' cases. But he said he agrees with several points made by the ACLU.

"I think we need to fine-tune the interim suspension part of the process, and we're doing that," he said. "We've already modified the gag orders" that bar students from talking with university-affiliated people, but he declined to say how it had changed.

Smith said he disagrees with the ACLU that attorneys should be allowed to participate in disciplinary hearings. Nor does he think that people sitting on disciplinary panels should receive training in due process, as the ACLU recommends.

"Where we need to be making changes," he said, "we'll make them."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Abolish the Code of Student Conduct

A work in progress, from the folks at uncivpro: "The Urgent Necessity of the Abolition of the University’s Regulation of Student Political Activity."
In Fall 2009, direct-action resistance to the UC Regents’ project of privatizing the University of California (“UC”) erupted systemwide. In response, the UC Administration is now punishing students on a mass scale for violating various provisions of the Code of Student Conduct.

Almost invariably, an alleged violation of the criminal law -- which, of course, exists independently of the Code of Student Conduct -- underlies the student conduct charges resulting from the demonstrations and actions in Fall 2009; almost invariably, the UC Administration commenced its student conduct charges against students after receiving a UC Police Department (UCPD) report detailing the student’s alleged violation of a particular law. Thus, students who engage in civil disobedience face significant repercussions from two independent State entities.

First, and most obviously, students confront the State and the possibility of State repression. It suffices to briefly mention that civil disobedience often results in suffering physical harm at the hands of law enforcement (i.e., police brutality), arrest, stints in jail, and citations for violations of the criminal law. The District Attorney can press charges against the students; the prospect of punitive fines and/or prison is real. Second, and less obviously, the University may sanction students for the same activity that the criminal law governs; that is, the University may impose additional punishments on students for their acts of civil disobedience.

A small group of law students working with National Lawyers Guild attorneys have closely monitored and defended students in these University disciplinary proceedings. Such scrutiny from a legal perspective has revealed administrators’ improper application of the University’s disciplinary process in addition to systemic abuses of students’ due process rights guaranteed under both the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and students’ contracts with the UC.

The purpose of this piece, however, is not to detail the UC Administration’s various and numerous violations of students’ legal rights. Instead, this piece generally seeks to contribute another opinion to the ongoing discussion of the student disciplinary process at the University. In addition, this article broadly aspires (with attendant modesty) to lay the groundwork for an anti-authoritarian critique of the student disciplinary process. This critique suggests an ultimate solution to the problems posed by the University’s use of its disciplinary process to sanction students for acts of civil disobedience: abolition of the student disciplinary process.

This solution may appear impractical, perhaps utopian, and too long term of a project to have any immediate relevance to the defense of students facing disciplinary charges. Undoubtedly, students facing disciplinary charges need immediate relief, and such long-term plans offer those already subjected to the student disciplinary process little assistance. This piece assumes that the most important objective for any defense-related project is to get the OSC off charged students’ backs. But it is our hope that this critique of the OSC will inform concerned parties as they move forward and formulate strategies to resist the Administration’s draconian effort to neutralize the most active elements in the Student Movement.

As a pragmatic first step, this piece argues for the abolition of the University’s authority to sanction students for conduct that the criminal law governs. Abolition of the University’s authority to sanction students for conduct that the criminal law governs is necessary, at the very least, to ensure that students can operate politically with as least restraint possible within the University context. Otherwise, the University can wield its power to deprive students of their education in order to coerce students to eschew direct-action resistance. Thus, there is an urgency to the abolition of the University’s power to sanction students for activity governed by the criminal law.

SF State Sit-In

From occupyca:
SAN FRANCISCO, California – On April 7th, students at San Francisco State University attempted a sit-in. This is a short debrief from a participant:

In response to the political repression and student fees issued recently to Decemeber 9th occupiers @ SFSU, 30 students conducted a peaceful march from the Ethnic Studies building to the Administration building. Seeing as we had had a peaceful sit-in in this building before- we didn’t see the chance for any police confrontation upon entering the building. However, after approximately 15 students entered the building peacefully, cops illegally closed all the doors to the building, shutting the rest of the students out. The next few students trying to enter were met with physical confrontation by the police. One student was put in a chokehold by the police, and another was tackled and wrestled for around 30 seconds. Neither student did anything to provoke the police and both escaped without any charges or wounds, however we must not turn a blind eye to the violence conducted by the police at a peaceful action.

Here are some photos from Indybay.
Update: More info at the Golden Gate Xpress.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

ACLU Slams UC Berkeley Student Conduct Process [Updated]

Read the whole report here. Here's the introduction:
It has come to the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California that the University of California, Berkeley ("University") has imposed extremely restrictive suspensions on students without meeting the requirements of constitutional due process and in violation of constitutional guarantees of privacy, freedom of speech, and freedom of association. The University of California has a historic reputation as a seat for dynamic student protest which inspires social change; it is therefore likely that more students will face disciplinary hearings in the future. We write to detail the ways in which the University's disciplinary process has gone wrong, to set forth the ACLU's recommendations for improvement, and to urge the University to take steps to ensure that due process and fair treatment are honored in future disciplinary actions.
[Update]: The original link is broken. Here's a new one.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Homes Not Jails Occupies House in SF

In 2008, José Morales was evicted from the house where he'd lived for 43 years. Today, José returned with a rally organized by Homes not Jails -- and the house was reoccupied.

Best paragraph in the Chronicle article is the last one:
About 5 p.m. Sunday, he said, police knocked on the door of the building and asked protesters how long they planned to stay. According to Gullicksen, they responded that they had no immediate plans to leave.
Update: More details at Indybay.

Another update (Monday 4/5): according to occupyca, the occupiers were evicted at about 1:30 pm today.