ASUC bill criticizes treatment of protesters

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A bill that would admonish the treatment of protesters by the UC Berkeley campus administration and UCPD by requesting these offices respect students' constitutional rights drew concern at last Wednesday's ASUC Senate meeting.

The bill, authored by External Affairs Vice President Ricardo Gomez, has been tabled for discussion by the Standing Committee on University and External Affairs, which planned to revisit the issue at its meeting Monday night.

Gomez - who has consistently stressed the importance of direct protesting as opposed to the lobbyist role his office has traditionally taken - said he authored the bill in response to the perceived abuse of protesters' political rights.

"I think the ASUC needs to pass a bill that takes a stance against police violence to deal with political demands the students have," he said. "Political demands need to be responded to with discussion, not violence."

The bill denounces the use of force on peaceful protesters as well as any campus-sponsored surveillance of student protesters. It goes on to request that students involved in conduct hearings be allowed an advisor, regardless of the nature of the charges brought against them.

Gomez added that he hopes the passage of the bill will end the UCPD practice of detaining protesters who violate the campus Code of Student Conduct but have not technically done anything illegal.

"The ASUC denounces the selective use of Code of Student Conduct, including but not limited to selective application of posting, publicity, public gathering, building use, and 'flexibility,' clauses, to target protesters," the bill states.

UCPD spokesperson Lt. Alex Yao did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

But Student Action Senator Spencer McLeod, who sits on the committee, has questioned the validity of some of the bill's claims of unfair protester treatment and has questioned the bill's strong language.

"I'm not going to vote for this because I think it sends an overly strong message," he said. "I think that if the bill were to say something like 'there are students who really fear for the future of the University of California,' I'd support that. It is our duty as elected officials to be diligent to ensure that this university maintains its reputation."

The bill was tabled by the committee in order to gain more input from Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard and UCPD liaison Sgt. LeRoy Harris, who both expressed concerns with the bill at the March 30 senate meeting, according to Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein.

Goldstein - the committee chair - also sponsored the bill to ensure it had enough support to continue on to be discussed by the committee. He said he expects the discussion at Monday's meeting to be more comprehensive, as Poullard said he will present a written statement outlining his concerns.

"I think the bill has ... weaknesses in a lack of details supporting the statements it makes," Goldstein said in an email. "There needs to be serious work on revising the bill by the author, and also reaching out to senators who might not agree with the tone and rhetoric of the bill to make compromises if it is to pass in some form."

The bill also alleges that the Center for Student Leadership under the direction of Amanda Carlton, the center's director of student involvement, employed a "snitch" to infiltrate campus protests - a statement which even Gomez admitted may not be entirely true.

"Maybe that's not accurate, and I think it'd be cool to get a response from the Center for Student Leadership. If that's not accurate I don't really care about that part," he said.

Assistant Dean of Students Christina Gonzales, Poullard and Carlton did not respond to repeated requests for comment.


Contact Kate Randle at [email protected]

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