The administration at California State University, Sacramento recently charged the “Sac State Four” with code of conduct violations for their April sit-in at the campus’ Sacramento Hall.
For their disciplinary hearing, the four protestors – Amanda Mooers, Yeimi Lopez, Nora Walker and Mildred Garcia Gomez – were not allowed representation as per an October executive order by CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.
Regardless of whether the women were in violation of administrative codes, CSU should have permitted the students’ legal representation at the hearings.
Mooers, Lopez, Walker and Gomez were all issued warnings for their first conduct violations. In the event that they receive second violations, they would face probation or expulsion.
The misconduct notices to the four students stated that they acted in violation of the California Administrative Code policies, including the rules regulating the time, place and manner of individual expression and conduct on campus. They were accused of not complying with administration or police, and unauthorized camping and lodging.
If charges are serious or controversial enough, as in this case, it would seem fair for students to have counsel, especially when they are facing administrative officials.
UC Davis School of Law professor Rex R. Perschbacher said he felt the danger of having lawyers on both sides is that the focus can get drawn away from students and administrators. However, in any other legal case, defendants and plaintiffs are granted the option of representation.
There’s no justification for denying students their sixth amendment right to an attorney, even if the matter is handled within the school court system. CSU and all other universities should respect students’ legal rights.