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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

UC community members to comment on campus protest report

The University of California has extended the deadline for members of the UC community to comment on the Robinson-Edley draft report from May 25 to June 8, with the hopes of encouraging more input.

In their report, UC General Counsel Charles F. Robinson and Christopher F. Edley Jr., dean of the UC Berkeley Law School, provide 50 recommendations in nine categories including: civil disobedience challenges, relationship building, role definition and coordination, hiring and training, communications with protesters, response during events, documenting activity during demonstrations,  post-event review and implementation.

“This report highlights the responsibility, shared by all members of the university community, to ensure that the rights of free speech are respected — in fact honored — and that peaceful, lawful protests exist on our campuses,” Robinson said in a UC press release. “At the same time, it is important to recognize the role that civil disobedience may play in such demonstrations, and the attendant consequences.”

The report states that their goal is to identify practices that will not only facilitate free speech, but will also protect the health and safety of everyone involved.

“For some campus administrators and police, this will require a substantial shift away from a mindset that has been focused primarily on the maintenance of order and adherence to rules and regulations,” the report states. “For some protesters, this will require taking more responsibility for their activities as well, including educating themselves about protest-related rules and considering the impact acts of civil disobedience can have on others in the campus community.”

University staff, faculty, alumni and students are encouraged to make thoughtful and constructive comments about how the report’s recommendations might be strengthened.

“We think it’s important to include the campus community. The University of California tries to have an open and inclusive environment, and we want to make sure that the campus community, not just students, but staff, faculty, everyone, has an opportunity to weigh in on things that affect them,” said Brooke Converse, media specialist with the Office of the President.

According to Converse, 33 people have commented on the draft so far with a mix of students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members contributing.

After all the recommendations come, they will be reviewed and assessed on how they might affect the current draft report. The final report will be posted by late June, then forwarded to the UC President for processing.

After the president receives the report, the recommendations will be reviewed and some will be implemented across UC campuses. The UC Office of the President did not have a specific time frame for this process.

According to Katheryn Kolesar, civil and environmental engineering graduate student and chair of the UC Davis Graduate Student Association, it is essential for students, staff and faculty to have a say in how the policies are changed, since it is the UC community who is directly affected by the changes.

“I am an optimist, and I have seen where students and faculty have been listened to by kind of the upper administration. Yeah, it doesn’t always happen, but that shouldn’t stop you from at least speaking your thoughts with the hopes that they will listen,” Kolesar said.

To review the draft report and make a comment, visit campusprotestreport.universityofcalifornia.edu. All comments must be submitted by June 8.

MICHELLE MURPHY can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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