Proposal Threatens Student Rights

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The Student Advocate's Office, the campus public defender, would like to inform students about several little-publicized potential changes to the Code of Conduct with potentially drastic ramifications for student rights. In early July the UC Office of the President released three proposed policy changes in response to the proliferation of hate crimes across UC campuses. The policies have gone through one round of feedback and are currently in a second round. If adopted, these policies will become part of the Code of Student Conduct at each UC Campus. The Student Advocate's Office strongly supports addressing and preventing hate crimes; however, these proposed policies are not the solution. Furthermore, they pose a serious threat to student rights.

The first proposed policy prohibits conduct with the intent to "terrorize," defined as: "to cause a reasonable person to fear bodily harm or death, perpetrated by the actor or his/her confederates." This policy is redundant at best, and leads to the injection of a vague and loaded term that could be misapplied and lead to viewpoint

discrimination. Article V, Section 102 of the Code of Student Conduct already prohibits any action that could constitute causing fear of harm or death. Furthermore, wording such as "terrorizing" is vague and fraught with loaded connotations. Under this policy, this term could possibly be used to single out individuals and groups with benign, but unconventional views.

The second proposed policy enables sanction enhancement for violations motivated by hate. The motivation of a crime is often difficult to determine. Given the current discretion already vested in the conduct officers, this provision invites increased subjectivity on behalf of conduct officers and injects greater ambiguity into the conduct process.

The third proposed policy presents the most dangerous threat to student rights and is the furthest removed from the aforementioned purpose. This policy gives conduct offices at each UC the authority to pursue campus discipline against a student following a state or federal criminal conviction. On the grounds that if the conviction provides "reasonable cause" to believe the student poses a current threat to "any person or property on University premises or to the orderly operation of the campus" even if the incident occurred off University jurisdiction.

This policy is counterintuitive to the alleged purpose of campus Conduct Offices. Conduct processes are built on the notion that in addition to a criminal process, a campus-based entity is necessary to handle violations that either occur within the campus

geography (the 'geographic box') or involve university matters. However, this section drastically expands that jurisdiction, allowing and even obligating conduct officers to investigate matters that are normally left to the criminal justice system. This not only infringes upon students' rights, but also places a burden on the student conduct process by involving it in issues that is neither equipped nor prepared to handle.

This provision is not narrowly tailored to the issue of hate crimes and therefore our office does not believe that it should be included in this package of proposals. Our office fears that this could lead to precedent for the expansion of the conduct process across other UC campuses.

Ultimately, the Student Advocate's Office understands the importance of addressing hate crimes at a UC wide level and on individual campuses. Facilitating candid discussions about hate crimes on all campuses and enhancing hate crime reporting are steps in the right direction. These policies are a step in the wrong direction. We urge students to read the full text of the proposed policies at advocate.berkeley.edu and to submit any feedback to [email protected] or directly to UCOP at [email protected]

Editor's Note

Kelly Fabian is a former employee of The Daily Californian.

Tags: STUDENT ADVOCATE'S OFFICE, UC OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, CODE OF CONDUCT, HATE CRIMES


Kelly Fabian is the ASUC student advocate. Reply to [email protected]



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