End Criminalization of UCI Student Activism sign now


Dear Chancellor Michael Drake:

CC: Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Michael R. Gottfredson
Dr. Rameen Talesh, Dean of Students and Assistant Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs
Edgar Dormitorio, Director, Student Conduct and Assistant Dean of Students
Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D., Interim Vice Chancellor Student Affairs

We write to express our concern about the current campus climate regarding student activism, political debate, and social action.

We have been dismayed to learn that the Orange County District Attorney has criminally charged students who engaged in an organized act of civil disobedience on February 24, 2010 outside of the Chancellors office in Aldrich Hall. Taking a cue from a long history of activism on University of California campuses, the student coalition had organized a protest to call attention to a variety of pertinent issues on our campus including tuition and fee increases and a hostile environment for students of color. While two students barricaded doors and engaged in other actions that we may not support, political action on campus should be regulated by the university and not external authorities.

Under the purview of the Student Conduct Director of the Office of the Dean of Students, students were placed on academic probation for a year, required to complete 30 hours of community service, a five-page reflection paper on community service hours, and a ten-page paper on the First Amendment. It is our understanding that students have completed or are in the process of completing this punishment set by the university.

On December 9, 2010, these UCI students were charged by the Orange County District Attorney for disorderly conduct. It is our position that this criminal prosecution is incommensurate with the student actions: There was no bodily harm and no property destruction of any kind. The UCI police, not the protesting students, called for an evacuation of Aldrich Hall. Unlike similar incidences, the student protestors were arrested without the usual intervention of the Student Conduct unit. Lastly, it is striking that the criminal charges were filed ten months following the event, two months before the statute of limitation, and on the last day of the quarter.

We ask that the university explain its role in the Orange County District Attorney proceeding with criminal charges when usually these acts of student civil disobedience have been handled internally.
We ask that the Chancellor and the Chair of the Academic Senate issue a public statement asking the Orange County District Attorney to drop the criminal charges.
We ask that the university return to an environment engaged in teaching and learning. Student activism and campus debate should be treated as teachable moments, lead to open discussions about the meaning of civil disobedience, the history of social movements, and the wide variety of political discourse within our community.


These and other actions can affirm the mission of the university as one of teaching, learning, and supporting a wide range of ideas, opinions, and political actions.

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Tania OlsenBy:
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