Documents received today from a California Public Records Act request on the student conduct process at UC-Irvine has revealed that 13 students have received informal resolutions for the February sit-in outside Chancellor Drake’s office. The sit-in demands included a recruitment and retention center, gender-neutral bathrooms, reinstatement of laid-off workers, and the termination of some corporate contracts.
According to the obtained documents (available here), all 13 were found to have violated code sections 102.13, 102.14, 102.15, 102.16, and 102.24 of the UCI student code, for “Disruptive behavior in Aldrich Hall outside of Chancellor’s office; Failure to comply with PR directive to disperse”; this is assumed to correspond with the February 24 sit-in. 12 of the students faced sanctions of probation and restitution, while 1 has been SUSPENDED. It is unknown what the status of their appeals is.
Here are the alleged code violations:
102.13 Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, or other University activities.
102.14 Disorderly or lewd conduct.
102.15 Participation in a disturbance of the peace or unlawful assembly.
102.16 Failure to identify oneself to, or comply with the directions of, a University official or other public official acting in the performance of his or her duties while on University property or at official University functions; or resisting or obstructing such University or other public officials in the performance of or the attempt to perform their duties.
102.24 Violation of local, state, or federal laws otherwise not covered under these standards of conduct.
This comes after the decision to suspend the Muslim Student Union for one year and three of the five UCI students charged for participating in the Cal State Fullerton Humanities action received sanctions of one year of disciplinary probation and a research/confession paper. More UCI students are awaiting meetings with Student Conduct and involuntary resolutions; to the best of our knowledge, at least 28 UCI students are facing student conduct charges.
All student conduct actions are intended to suppress student dissent, and other documents suggest that student conduct officers monitor everything from campus protests to reservations made by activist groups. But the suspension of an activist for a peaceful sit-in is an outrage matched only by the sanctions that have been, and likely will soon be, taken against MSU for their protest of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.
In an initial round of research, we were unable to find a single sit-in–across the country, over the past 40 years–that was punished with suspension. This includes countless sit-ins over labor struggles and against sweatshops and wars, many of which have been violently evicted by police and nearly all have resulted in arrest. In fact, we only found record of one sit-in being prosecuted in criminal court: after UNC students sat in for two weeks protesting campus apparel-sourcing policies, 5 were found guilty of minor charges, and the judge stayed each of their sentences. Even recent sit-ins at UC Berkeley and UC Riverside protesting the univerities’ profiting from sweatshop labor resulted in no criminal charges nor student conduct charges.
We can say with little doubt that this level of persecution violates all historical precedent for responding to student protests, and sets a terrible precedent for future actions against student leaders. What used to be considered a fundamental right–and a rite of passage–for student activists has now been placed among the gravest of sins by the UCI administration. Student Conduct Director Edgar Dormitorio has actively collaborated with UCIPD to drum up charges against student activists, with the full complicity of Dean of Students Rameen Talesh, Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez, and Chancellor Michael Drake, while all of them told us repeatedly that they valued protest and sympathized with our grievances.
We will post additional information about how to support these students as we find out more; and ask that you watch out for future updates on this case and the charges against other students.