UC Berkeley proposes changes to public expression policies

Following the settlement of a lawsuit alleging that demonstrations on the UC Berkeley campus created a hostile environment for Jewish students, the campus is considering changes to its policy for public expression, administrators announced Tuesday.

The changes to the campus Regulations Concerning the Time, Place, and Manner of Public Expression policy are pursuant to the July settlement reached in the case Felber v. Yudof, which asked the university to clarify policies regarding the use of imitation firearms and leaving unobstructed pathways during demonstrations.

The suit, which was filed in March 2011, stemmed from an incident during which Jessica Felber, a UC Berkeley alumna and former co-president of the campus Zionist student group Tikvah, was allegedly assaulted by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine during a demonstration on campus. It alleged that the campus and university tolerated “the development of a dangerous anti-Semitic climate on its campuses” and failed to adopt policies that addressed that campus climate, according to the filing.

The suit was dismissed by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in December, and by the plaintiffs in July, following the settlement agreement.

The campus will take comments from the campus community on the proposed policy changes until Nov. 21, according to a campuswide email sent out by UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande Tuesday.

Read the current and proposed language in the regulation below:

SECTION 321(a)

  • The section currently states that “No person on University property or at official University functions may block entrances to or otherwise interfere with the free flow of traffic into and out of campus buildings.”
  • The proposed change would add the following to the section: “Groups engaging in activities in or around campus buildings must leave open an unobstructed path sufficient for pedestrian traffic to flow into and out of the building.”

SECTION 321(k)

  • This section currently states: “No person on University property or at official University functions may possess, use, store, or manufacture a firearm or other weapon.”
  • The proposed change to this policy would add: “The display of imitation firearms or other weapons is prohibited in all open, public areas of the campus, unless it would be obvious to a reasonable observer that the imitation firearm or other weapon is not a real firearm or other weapon. To ensure compliance with this provision, prior to displaying any imitation firearm or other weapon in an open, public area of the campus, approval must be obtained from the campus police department.”

SECTION 331

  • The language in this section states that “During open hours, Sproul Plaza and Lower Sproul Plaza may be used without reservation for discussion or public expression which does not require or involve sound amplification equipment . . . However, use of these areas for discussion or public expression may be limited when such use interferes with the orderly conduct of University business or authorized events.”
  • The final proposed change would add to the policy, that “Groups engaging in activities in or around Sather Gate must leave open an unobstructed path that is sufficient for pedestrian traffic to flow through Sather Gate. If emergency vehicles need to pass through Sather Gate, groups must move to allow the vehicles to do so.”

Full story to follow.

 

Amruta Trivedi is the assistant university news editor. Contact her at [email protected].