The Daily Nexus let UCSB students down this summer. We promised to provide web updates on campus news and did not. It was a dereliction of our duty with an unfortunate consequence: the university sucker-punched us while our backs were turned.
On August 22, the UCSB administration announced that it had greatly expanded its authority to punish students’ off-campus deeds under a policy called “extended jurisdiction.”
There is only one plausible reason for doing this in August: UCSB officials wanted to hide their activities from students. To be fair, the university did ask for student input. As part of its “extensive deliberations,” the university held a total of two public forums where students were invited to participate. However, the last occurred on October 16 and 17, 2000 and the previous in 1999 – “extensive” is hardly the correct adjective. Students weren’t here.
The timing was a gutless and devious way for the administration to make campus policy. And the policy they enacted is pernicious.
The motives are just: to punish rape, violence, stalking, sexual harassment and hazing. No UCSB student should have to attend class alongside the person who raped, beat or otherwise terrorized them. The university’s policy in fulfilling these motives, however, is awful.
Every student is already accountable to the law, however imperfect it may be. Extended jurisdiction, however, is more than a supplement to the courts – it is a parallel criminal justice system. University hearings are not tied to criminal or civil trials. A student could be acquitted or never tried by the state and still be punished by the university’s Student-Faculty Committee on Student Conduct.
The campus regulations are brief and shoddy. Violations are only briefly described and are not tied to specific punishments. A rapist, say, could be ordered to attend sensitivity training, while someone hazing a freshman could be expelled. It depends on how the committee feels on any given day.
Committee members, according to campus regulations, are “not legally trained personnel.” In other words, they are egregiously unqualified to collect and handle evidence. Nonetheless, they have the power to reprimand, suspend or expel students. At hearings, students are not allowed to challenge the legality of campus regulations; that requires a civil lawsuit.
Campus regulations state that an accused student must be notified in writing five days in advance of his or her hearing. The letter, however, only has to be postmarked five days prior to the hearing – when the accused receives this letter is a different matter. Registered letters, in the best of circumstances, arrive two days after they are sent.
The accused student can be advised, but not represented, by an attorney. If a student wants an attorney, he or she must tell the committee three days before the hearing. So, if the letter takes three days to arrive, the accused can’t have a lawyer.
If the student misses the letter altogether, it doesn’t matter because the committee can try the case and pronounce a sentence without them.
The full committee of four faculty members and four students does not have to be present at the hearing, either. Only two of each have to be present. Students do not have to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a unanimous decision: a simple majority vote will do. If the accused and half of the committee can not be there for the hearing, three people could decide in an afternoon to expel someone. It’s possible to appeal the committee’s decision, but only one appeal is allowed and it must be made to two people who helped design this bone-headed policy: the chancellor and the vice-chancellor for student affairs.
All of this is done in secret. The public does not have access to hearings, records or evidence. There is no way to determine how the university metes out justice. Or injustice, as the case may be.
Despite the university’s best efforts to keep almost everything about extended jurisdiction secret, the Daily Nexus will do everything it can to expose its convoluted workings. We also, as always, advise you to behave yourselves.
But there is something else you can do. You can ask the Office of Student Life for a copy of campus regulations or come take a look at our copy. Let the school’s administrators know exactly how you feel about this unjust policy and the odious way they put it in place.
One way you can do this is by writing us a letter or a column so we can publish it where 20,000 people can read it. Or, you can directly let the administrators know how you feel – confront them in the halls, call them or write to them.
Here’s where to find them and how to reach them.
May justice be served.
Henry T. Yang, chancellor
5221 Cheadle Hall
[e-mail not available]
Michael D. Young, vice chancellor for student affairs
5203D Cheadle Hall
H. Yonie Harris, dean of students
2201 Student Affairs & Administrative Services
Joseph Navarro, associate dean of students, conduct and student relations
2201B Student Affairs & Administrative Services