The Campus Regulations Review Committee debated further extension of its jurisdiction into Isla Vista yesterday, proposing that sanctions – including suspension and expulsion – be placed on students for off-campus offenses such as alcohol violations or couch burnings.
If the suggested changes to campus policies are adopted, the administration would prosecute, among other crimes egregious cases of alcohol distribution, drug sale or manufacture and couch and dumpster fires. Further discussion is set to take place within the month, though the timetable for the final decision is not yet in sight.
About 25 people attended the meeting, that took place in a Student Resource Building meeting room yesterday. While the university had already extended its jurisdiction in 2001 to cover off-campus sexual assault, threats of violence and other instances in which the “health and safety” of UCSB community members are threatened, administrators have expressed interest in amending the code to more explicitly include the additional offenses.
At the meeting, Dean of Students Yonie Harris and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young defended the proposal to students, which included representatives of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, as well as Associated Students President Jared Goldschen and A.S. President-elect Stephanie Brower.
The administrators assured students throughout the session that the new regulations would only be applied in “egregious” and “felonious” cases, and emphasized that students being prosecuted for minor crimes such as public intoxication and possession of marijuana would not face additional sanctions at the university level.
Past cases brought before the university’s Judicial Review Committee range from assault with a pellet gun to hazing and alleged sexual assault within the greek system. In the past, the process has been invoked sparingly, with only seven cases prosecuted last year and four taken in the 2004-2005 school year.
Despite their reassurances, several students at the meeting expressed concern over the vagueness of the language used in the proposed regulations. Student Advocate General Mark Regus of the Office of the Student Advocate said the term “felonious” could potentially be problematic because some innocuous behaviors associated with marijuana could be classified as felonies.
“Having marijuana in two pockets can be cited as an attempt to distribute,” Regus, a third-year law & society major, said.
However, Harris said the focus of the changes is intended to restrict the scale of open events that attract unwanted outsiders and create an unruly atmosphere – not to punish students for small offenses.
“We feel it would be helpful to respond, but only in egregious cases,” Harris said. “[For example in the case of] a 50-kegger or 30-kegger open party with no attempt to card. It is also known that outsiders in Isla Vista get most of the citations and arrests. For us, attempting to govern large open keg parties brings about a calmer community.”
Fourth-year engineering major and regional NORML director Ethan Kravitz said he felt that expanding the university’s authority was unnecessary because the criminal justice system suffices in the prosecution of such offenses.
“I’m opposed to the proposals,” Kravitz said. “It’s the university’s job to educate students, not police their outside lives. If the crime is something really serious, it will be covered by the criminal justice system.”
Kravitz also said that though the current group of administrators said they plan to enforce the rules only in the most serious cases, the language of the proposal leaves the door open to interpretation by future overseers who may not be as tolerant.
“It has vague wording that could be abused when you are not in office,” Kravitz said. “It’s a pointless and slippery slope. There’s no need, no reason and it’s dangerous.”
Implementation of the proposed changes would require approval by the Campus Regulations Review Committee, Harris, Young and Chancellor Henry T. Yang, among several others.
While no decisions were made at the meeting regarding the regulations, a town hall forum will be held in the Student Resource Building multipurpose room on May 31 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to gather further community input on the regulations.