Monday, October 25, 2010

Student Conduct and Terrorism

Last December, Governor Schwarzenegger invoked a rhetoric of terrorism to describe protests that had taken place on UC Berkeley campus:
California will not tolerate any type of terrorism against any leaders including educators. The attack on Chancellor Birgeneau’s home is a criminal act and those who participated will be prosecuted under the fullest extent of the law. Debate is the foundation of democracy and I encourage protestors to find peaceful and productive ways to express their opinions.
At the time, Schwarzenegger's hyperbolic language, along with that of UC Berkeley administrators, was widely ridiculed. But now the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) is looking to insert specific language about "terrorism" into the guidelines that determine how the Codes of Student Conduct on individual UC campuses are written. The proposal is to incorporate this language into the section on hate crimes.

The following was circulated in an email from Jerlena Griffin-Desta, director of student services at the Student Affairs Office of the President. These changes may be included in the discussion at the November Regents' meeting. The first point is particularly problematic, but note that the third almost as bad:
REVISED: Proposed Policy Changes to Address Hate Crimes

1. Terrorizing Conduct

The following new language would be added to the Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline (section 102.00 Grounds for Discipline):

“[The following is prohibited:] Conduct, where the actor means to communicate a serious expression of intent to terrorize, or acts in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing, one or more University students, faculty, or staff. ‘Terrorize’ means to cause a reasonable person to fear bodily harm or death, perpetrated by the actor or his/her confederates. ‘Reckless disregard’ means consciously disregarding a substantial risk. This section applies without regard to whether the conduct is motivated by race, ethnicity, personal animosity, or other reasons. This section does not apply to conduct that constitutes the lawful defense of one’s self, of another, or of property.”

2. Sanction Enhancement for Violations Motivated by Hate

The following new language would be added to the Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline (section 104.00 Administration of Student Discipline):

“Sanctions [for any violations of the Grounds for Discipline] may be enhanced where the victim was selected because of the victim’s race, color, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, ancestry, service in the uniformed services, physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer related or genetic characteristics), or perceived membership in any of these classifications.”

3. Discipline for criminal convictions

The following new language would be added to the Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline (section 102.00 Grounds for Discipline):

“[Students may be subject to discipline, i.e., discipline is possible, not mandatory, on the basis of] A conviction under any California state or federal criminal law, when the conviction constitutes reasonable cause to believe that the student poses a current threat to the health or safety of any person or to the security of any property, on University premises or at official University functions, or poses a current threat to the orderly operation of the campus.”

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