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Nouvelles des Etats-Unis (màj 26 avril 2010)

lundi 26 avril 2010, par Elie, Jean-Paul et Jean-Marie

- A lire ici un article du New York Times sur les très nombreuses suppressions de postes d’enseignants à venir aux Etats-Unis.

Le 24 avril aura lieu à Los Angeles "The 2nd Statewide Mobilizing Conference Against The Privatization of Public Education". Voir l’appel de cette conférence ci-dessous.

- Vous pouvez lire ici un article de The Nation sur le mouvement estudiantin américain, avec beaucoup d’éléments sur Berkeley.

- Et ici article du président de l’intersyndicale de UC (qui ne représente néanmoins pas les enseignants-chercheurs tenured ou tenure track lesquels n’ont pas de syndicat), sur la manière dont les universités de recherche dépensent leur argent aux USA.

- Sur la plupart des campus de UC (notamment à Berkeley et à Santa Cruz), certains étudiants ayant protesté vigoureusement cet automne contre les augmentations exorbitantes de leurs droits d’inscription se retrouvent pris dans les filets de procédures administratives ubuesques et largement illégales (du moins aux yeux du système judiciaire américain tel qu’il existe hors-campus...). La situation est en fait celle de la double peine, certains des étudiants "suspendus" sur les campus étant par ailleurs pris dans des procédures judiciaires hors-campus – et parfois pour les mêmes actions... Mais il semble très clair que c’est surtout dans les cas des procédures sur-campus que leurs droits les plus élémentaires (droits d’association et de réunion, liberté de parole et d’opinion, mais aussi et peut-être avant tout droit à une procédure d’investigation et de sanction claire et digne, avec la protection d’un conseiller juridique) ont été absolument bafoués, comme si les administrateurs de UC, qui se retranchent généralement derrière le Student Code of Conduct local, s’estimaient en fait au-dessus de la loi commune du pays.... Un exemple peu reluisant de l’exceptionalité des universités, en somme ! Mais, un peu partout, les professeurs protestent enfin vigoureusement contre ces abus de pouvoirs caractérisés de la part des administrateurs des lieux, comme le montre la lettre ci-dessous de Judith Butler qui circule actuellement à Berkeley pour signature générale... et sera lundi sur le bureau du chancelier. La même chose est en train de prendre forme à Santa Cruz, comme vous le verrez dans le texte (lancé cette fois par Ananya Roy) à la suite de la lettre de Judith.

April 20, 2010

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau
Office of the Chancellor
200 California Hall #1500

Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer
200 California Hall

Office of Student Conduct
2536 Channing Way
Building E. 2nd Floor

We, the undersigned faculty, call for the immediate cessation of all proceedings against the students involved in protest actions that are currently underway by the OSC. Such proceedings should be suspended until and unless the serious procedural issues that currently mar these proceedings can be fully addressed and rectified. Because it is clear that no fair evaluation can be conducted under these circumstances, we call for the immediate halt to all disciplinary proceedings against student protestors following from the events on December 11th and November 20th of this academic year. It has become abundantly clear in the last weeks that these proceedings are not only seriously flawed, but that no just outcome can emerge from these procedures in their current form. The problems as we see them pertain to two separate but interlocking issues : the version of the code of student conduct that is currently used and the specific applications of that code in these specific cases. These flawed applications arise from inadequacies in the code itself and from flagrant instances of bad judgment on the part of those conducting the inquiries. These egregious applications of the code have raised serious questions whether those charged with directing a fair disciplinary review have overreached their mandate and contravened both legal and educational standards to which we, as a community, are bound. The rights to political protest, guaranteed by the University’s commitment to free speech and rights of assembly are paramount in this context and must provide the framework within which charges against any of these students are assessed. We note with grave concern the lack of a sufficient effort to balance these concerns with the alleged offenses as well as the failure to develop and apply appropriate measures for assessing these charges.

Our concerns below this pertain both to clear procedural flaws in the existing code and to unjust applications in these cases :

1.) Failure to Afford Due Process : The first and most glaring procedural flaw is that UC rules regarding student conduct do not afford due process rights that comply with established legal standards. We note that (a) various courts have held that procedural protections are required in the context of administrative disciplinary proceedings and that those decisions have relevance in these cases and (b) where such disciplinary proceedings lead to the conclusion that criminal charges are warranted, or where students suffer other material deprivations, such as suspension, expulsion, or the withholding of the diploma, students clearly ought to be entitled to legal counsel who could review the evidence and present counter-argument where necessary. The Campus Rights Project, the ACLU of Northern California, and many of our own faculty and advisors in law have expressed concern about this legal failing.

2.) Impositions of Sanctions without Adjudication : We see clear evidence of unjust applications of this flawed policy. In the case of two students, Angela Miller and Zachary Bowin, sanctions were imposed prior to the convening of any formal disciplinary review, and thus to any determination of culpability. In such cases, due process procedures were fully abandoned with unjust consequences. Although the OSC has described these measures as interim restraints, they are, in fact, the equivalent of non-adjudicated punishment.

3.) No Specification of the Evidence Necessary to Ground Charges : A second procedural flaw, clearly the result of the failure to afford due process protection, is highlighted by the clear miscarriage of justice committed in these two cases : for example, the code does not adequately specify the kinds of evidence and the means of cross-examination on the basis of which any charge may be articulated or adjudicated. Nor does it allow for an advisor to have a meaningful role at the time of hearing. As a result, allegations that certain students are a “threat” to campus life or have engaged in “physical abuse” seriously impugn the reputation of students, and this is especially alarming that the students were given no evidence at the time to support the allegation, and given no opportunity to present counter-evidence or to consult legal experts. Indeed, at no time has a clear evidentiary basis been made available for the allegations against these students. As we all know, such allegations have long-term effects on the capacity of students to finish their education and to gain employment. As a result, such allegations should either be corroborated by standard processes of evidentiary review and disputation, or dropped altogether. As it stands, there is no basis in evidence for these charges, and the rights of students have been fully suspended or denied.

Indeed, no legally acceptable standard of evidence has been established in the OSC adjudication of these cases. The accusation and the punishment seem to come at the same time (recalling the worst scenarios from Kafka). We call upon the OSC to develop standards that would comply with existing legal standards demanding a preponderance of evidence as well as clear and convincing grounds for any further disciplinary actions. We deplore allegations that presume guilt by association, or which single out political viewpoints as grounds for sanctions (recalling the worst scenarios from McCarthyism).

4.) Inadequate Protection of the Right to Protest : No explanation of the Student Code of Conduct was made public and available to students in advance of the protest actions of November 20th or December 11th. On December 11th, the students were clearly protesting with the explicit understanding that they had the permission from the University to express their views publicly in a protest action. If and when that permission was rescinded, it should have been directly communicated to those participating in the protest actions. The failure to communicate policy and the retractable conditions of permission in this instance foregrounds the need for structured and stable lines of communication between administration and students on such matters. It also calls attention to the arbitrary power of the administration to grant rights of protest and to withdraw them when these rights should be more securely and consistently protected by the clearly communicated policies of the university. Indeed, the tradition of civil disobedience belongs squarely to both traditions of academic freedom and freedom of speech. Since students had reason to assume that they were operating under an administrative ratification of those very rights, they had no intention to trespass, but understood themselves as exercising rights of protest fundamental to free speech at the university.

5.) Failure by OSC to Follow its Own Procedures : We call attention to the fact that the OSC neither honors its own timelines nor holds itself accountable to its own procedures, which implies that certain rogue judgments, preemptive punishments, and “rehabilitative” methods are being pursued without any warrant in university code or existing law. We deplore the practice of preemptive punishment that works through a sham “ educational” model, as is evident in the recent settlement offers that couple suspension with an “essay assignment” that requires students to perform a political self-criticism, indeed, to take a prescribed political point of view, such as the appropriate limits of the freedoms guaranteed to journalists (as was done to Josh Wolf, the journalist who covered the Wheeler Hall events from within the building and with the explicit approval of his dean). This disciplinary action not only makes use of a fully discredited educational model (one that is better described as “inculcation” and does not even reserve that respect for diverse viewpoints that defines the fundament of liberal education) that we, as educators, find fully deplorable and would never accept as part of any educational institution worth the name. As a result, any finding on the basis of such a flawed conduct should be invalidated, and would be invalidated in the course of any legal review. We ask that the administration cease these practices immediately.

Hence, because the disciplinary procedures have proven to be pervasively flawed for all the reasons cited above, we call for the suspension of all charges against the student protesting on December 11th as well as those protesting on November 20th. In addition, we ask that the Student Code of Conduct be revised with the participation of educators and legal advisors to bring the code into conformity with legal standards of due process for students, and establish clear and legitimate evidentiary bases for any allegations. These rights are severely compromised by the procedural flaws and evidence of overreach and misconduct on the part of those conducting the reviews. We maintain that the current disciplinary procedures are so badly flawed that they should be abandoned at this time. Because no sanctions should be imposed until a review has been successfully concluded on the basis of a just application of legally sound policy, and we have neither a sound policy nor a just application at this time, we call for the cessation of all disciplinary proceedings. Of utmost importance to any such policy revision will be the commitment of the university to rights of free speech, which include rights to peaceful protest. If these rights are arbitrarily suspended or abandoned without reflection or if they are restricted without clear justification and communication, we will have dishonored the tradition of free and open expression that has distinguished this campus for decades. Let us not accept a situation where arbitrary power makes a mockery of those fundamental and enduring rights that we are surely bound to honor and protect.

Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature

Shannon Jackson, Professor of Theatre, Dance and
Performance Studies, and Rhetoric
Saba Mahmood, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Alice Merner Agogino, Roscoe and Elizabeth Hughes
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Daniel Perlstein, Associate Professor, School of Education
Katherine Sherwood, Professor Art Practice and Disability Studies
Gillian Hart, Professor, Department of Geography
Richard B. Norgaard, Professor of Energy and Resources
Daniel Boyarin, Diller Professor in Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric
Kaja Silverman, Class of 1940 Professor of Rhetoric and Film
Ananya Roy, Professor, City and Regional Planning
Greg Levine, Associate Professor, History of Art
Peter Glazer, Associate Professor, Theatre, Dance,
and Performance Studies

April 21, 2010
University of California, Santa Cruz

Over 100 UCSC Faculty Sign Letter Objecting to Campus Judiciary Process

Santa Cruz, CA-April 21, 2010-Faculty protest is mounting about student penalties levied by the Judicial Affairs Office at UCSC. Over 100 UCSC faculty and lecturers signed a letter to Chancellor George Blumenthal objecting to the "voluntary resolution agreements" issued to students in connection with the occupation of UCSC’s Administration Building, Kerr Hall, in November of last year. Faculty will hold a press conference on Friday, April 23, at 2 pm outside Kresge Town Hall, before the UCSC Academic Senate meeting at 2:30 where they expect to press the Chancellor and Executive Vice Chancellor with tough questions on the issue.

From November 19-22, 2009, UCSC students, faculty, and other employees and affiliates occupied the administration building to protest the UC Regents’ decision to raise student tuition 32% while also cutting local programs and services in response to the state and UC budget crisis. When negotiations between the administration and the protesters failed, police cleared the areas in and around the building, resulting in the injuring of one faculty member who had arrived to witness. The dispersal order informed students that if they left peacefully, no charges would follow.

After conducting interviews with 46 students identified as connected with the Kerr Hall occupation, Director of Student Judicial Affairs Doug Zuidema issued 36 "voluntary resolution agreements," finding students equally responsible for 10 violations of the student code of conduct and levying fines of $944 each to cover the University’s $34,000 estimated costs of repairs and clean-up. Faculty point out that although the agreement is "voluntary," students failing to pay the fine may be barred from enrolling in classes or graduating.

Faculty object that students were not provided with evidence confirming their responsibility for damages and were instead each fined the same amount-to cover the total for damages and clean-up-regardless of their role in the events. Students were also not offered evidence of their responsibility for the damages, even though several requested such evidence at the initial interview. Students who requested a hearing were also initially denied one because their student status wasn’t threatened. The Student Policies and Regulations Handbook stipulates that "Requests for formal hearings will be granted in those cases where (1) the sanction issued by the responsible official includes either suspension or dismissal from the university or (2) the facts presented in the case are in dispute." Students have subsequently requested hearings on the grounds of factual inaccuracies in the VRAs.

The faculty letter notes as another major concern that "the disciplinary procedure has proceeded without consideration of students’ rights of free speech and assembly." Although the actions were collectively executed by a group of considerable size and diversity in public expression of grievance against the University, "the resolution does not separate accusations of criminal behavior from protected speech acts ; it implies that any form of participation in these actions is tantamount to vandalism." This, faculty argue, "will have a chilling effect on necessary speech and debate in the campus community" by threatening criminalization "in cases where the University has a substantial stake in minimizing the effects of a coordinated protest action" (Letter of 4/14/10).

Faculty received a response to their letter from the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Felicia McGinty, although they had written to the Chancellor. In her response, VCSA McGinty provided a general overview of the judiciary process but did not address the specifics of this case, including the inability of the University to provide evidence to students.

The University lists the cost of repairs and clean-up as approximately $34,000 (half of which is for contracted janitorial services). Students volunteered to assist in clean-up but their offer was declined.

As part of a turn toward more draconian approaches to dissent, in February of this year police were found to be photographing faculty, staff, and student participants in a peaceful demonstration outside Kerr Hall to show support for foreign language instruction, which is also seeing cuts. In a letter to the Chancellor, faculty protested the police surveillance, citing a faculty senate PATRIOT ACT resolution passed in 2004 enjoining the Chancellor to instruct police to refrain from surveillance activities without a court order. Assistant Chancellor Sahni responded to the letter, countering that "during these difficult times . . . the police must be able to use their judgment and reasonable tools to document for evidentiary purposes conduct that is potentially unlawful. . . ." Faculty have prepared a response and requested a meeting with the Chancellor to discuss these surveillance activities.

At the Senate meeting on April 23, faculty will ask the Chancellor and Provost to account for recent surveillance activities and judiciary proceedings in the question and answer period following the Chancellor’s and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost’s addresses to the faculty.

The faculty letter protesting the UCSC Judiciary procedures can be found at :