Report on protest policies discussed at UC Regents meeting

Javier Panzar/Senior Staff
UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley addresses the UC Board of Regents on the protest report he drafted with UC Counsel Charles Robinson.

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SACRAMENTO — The UC Board of Regents commended and critiqued a draft report analyzing UC protest procedures at its meeting Wednesday, though many of the report’s recommendations will not be fully implemented for months.

After an interruption by protesters earlier in the day that forced the regents to move to closed session temporarily, the board reconvened after lunch to continue questioning UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley on the protest report he drafted with UC Vice President and General Counsel Charles Robinson.

The report outlines 50 policy recommendations “aimed at identifying best practices to inform the University’s response to future demonstrations” in light of the fact that “free expression, robust discourse, and vigorous debate over ideas and principles are essential to the mission of our University.”

Edley said at the meeting that policy changes need to be made systemwide rather than on individual campuses, and that he and Robinson have been relieved to find that some changes are already being implemented at various campuses.

“Our sense is that in the months since November, on all of our campuses, there have already been significant changes in policies and procedures (related to protest),” Edley said.

Edley pointed to UC Davis, where he said Chancellor Linda Katehi has done “an absolutely fabulous job” of pulling the community back together and being responsive to concerns that were raised after campus police pepper sprayed protesters last November.

The report also cautions against the use of mutual aid during protests, urging campuses to rely on their own police forces and those from other UC campuses in order to ensure that the tactics used align with the campuses goals.

Student Regent-designate Jonathan Stein said at the meeting that he supported promoting the establishment of a mediation program and requiring chancellors to be on-site for protests, as outlined in the report.

But Stein said he was concerned by the report’s failure to recommend a change to the way campus police view passive resistance versus active resistance — in light of the incident last November in which UCPD hit Occupy Cal protesters with batons after they engaged in what UCPD referred to as “active resistance” by linking arms and standing in place rather than dispersing.

“I was there when students with linked arms were struck by police, and I can assure you the only entity being violent in that situation were the police,” Stein said. “I urge you to consider that as a recommendation when going forward.”

Edley also raised the issue of disciplinary action against protesters after demonstrations, pointing out that turning students over to the district attorney for disciplinary action can be problematic.

“Campuses should consider creating a mechanism for internal administrative discipline for students as something between having no consequences for violating campus policies and referring the matter to the district attorney,” he said.

Edley said that he and Robinson also want to devise a more elaborate implementation memo as the university moves forward with putting the policies into effect.

The regents said the deadline for submitting comments on the draft report is May 25, although UC spokesperson Lynn Tierney said they may extend that deadline to allow for additional comments.

UC President Mark Yudof will review the recommendations and work with Edley and Robinson to review and incorporate them into policies.

The process may take up to six months while implementation measures are discussed before the report is revisited by the board, according to Tierney.

Adelyn Baxter is the news editor.