UC Santa Barbara stretched its judiciary reach beyond campus boundaries in late August, after approximately two years of deliberation.
Under extended jurisdiction, UCSB students are accountable to the university for serious crimes perpetrated on or off campus. According to campus regulations, the university will only consider the most serious crimes, which fall under the categories of physical abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment and hazing.
Extended jurisdiction does not include most physical fights unless a UCSB student seriously injures another person, Associate Dean of students Joe Navarro said. Students will not be suspended or dismissed due to drug, property destruction, minor in possession or driving under the influence violations, Navarro said.
“We’re going to be very thoughtful in how we use this,” Dean of Students Yonie Harris said.
UCSB students are expected to follow rules set by the university and defined in the campus regulations. Previously, these rules only applied to students on university property or at university sponsored events, except for plagiarism. Two years ago, the university extended jurisdiction to include off-campus dorms such as Tropicana and Francisco Torres.
A UCSB student who violates university code and is reported will be contacted by the university and have to appear before the Student Faculty Conduct Committee in a private hearing. The committee consists of three undergraduate students, elected by Associated Students; one graduate student, elected by the Graduate Student Association; and four staff members, elected by the Academic Senate.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young, who previously argued against extending jurisdiction, said the university has no intention of replacing law enforcement, but rather seeks to protect the health and safety of the campus.
“I’ve come to believe there are times, rare occasions, when I feel we need to respond as a campus to events that take place off the campus,” Young said. “We need to respond in ways that are thoughtful and measured.”
“The welfare and safety of our students is our most important concern,” Chancellor Henry Yang said, “and this improvement in policy is intended to complement the criminal justice system in those cases where additional protection is needed.”
Navarro said he believes extended jurisdiction will help prevent situations where a female student attends a class with the man who sexually assaulted her.
Any person can file a complaint against a UCSB student, even if the incident did not occur in Isla Vista, since jurisdiction is not limited to any geographical boundaries. However, Navarro said his ability to gather adequate evidence for the hearing determines if the case will go before the Conduct Committee.
Navarro said a case must meet certain conditions before the university becomes involved. According to the updated campus regulations, these conditions include, “the seriousness of the alleged misconduct, whether the alleged victim is a member of the campus community, whether a crime has been reported to the criminal authorities, the risk of future harm involved, whether the off-campus conduct is part of a series of action that occurred both on and off campus, and the ability of the university to gather evidence including the testimony of witnesses.”
If a victim wanted to pursue a hearing with the conduct committee, he or she would meet with Navarro, and then Navarro would send a letter to the accused person in order to set up a meeting with the accused. He also collects evidence appropriate to the crime such as police reports, witness statements and medical reports in cases of assault.
At the hearing, the accused student can present evidence and witnesses similar to a criminal case – however, the accused student does not have to be present at the hearing when the Conduct Committee makes a decision, Navarro said.
The conduct committee sends its recommendation and the repercussion, if the student is found guilty, to Young and to the accused student. The student has 10 days to appeal before Chancellor Yang makes the final decision.
“We are using jurisdiction to protect the campus community,” Harris said. “The criminal justice system is meant to punish.”
In 1999, members of Associated Students and the internal vice president looked at ways to improve safety at UCSB. Since then, Harris said different committees compared I.V. to other college cities at UC Los Angeles and UC Berkeley, where the universities declared extended jurisdiction.