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September 08, 1988 - Image 39

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-08

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 8, 1988 - Page3

ISSUES

1Y STEVE KNOPPER
The University now has a system
to punish students who commit dis-
iriminatory acts. But students and
officials are still at odds over how
the policy will af-
1 u fect the campus.
Some, such as
©SA junior Zach
Kittrie, chair of the
Michigan Student
Assembly's Exter-
nal Relations
Committee, say the policy may pre-
,ent students from speaking out on
issues. "It does add to a chilling en-
rironment on campus," he said. "It
deters individuals from speaking as
freely as they would like to."
7 OTHERS,
uch as Vice Pres-
ident for Student 'This is th
Services Henry
ohnson say the nastiest,]
policy gives "some
peace of mind to noxious
potential victims" posed to d
and will serve as a
« warning in ad- ing's stat
"rance to those who
would discriminate discrimin
that it is not advi- boldest a
(sable to do so."
In April, the 'fuck yo
University's Board dents in y
of Regents closed
inother chapter in
The debate over a -Law s
Lode of non-aca- Schn
'demic conduct,
passing an "anti- reading
)arassment policy" rassm
to deter discrim-
ination using aca-
{demic sanctions.
I Many have argued the anti-ha-
rassment policy is not a general
rode, since it will only apply to dis-
criminatory acts. Student activists,
though, say the new policy is
.nerely an open door for a more
comprehensive code, which could be
used to restrict their rights to pro-
iest.
SINCE THE policy passed
-May 1, the University has not re-
eived any complaints about harass-
ment, Johnson said. In the fall, "we
don't look for a deluge (of com-
plaints)," he said, "but we do look
for a steady stream."
For years, student activists main-
tained the University cannot set up
an effective system to judge stu-
=ents' guilt or innocence. The civil
Courts, they say, are trained to make
$uch decisions and the University
Phould not have that power.
Many administrators, however,
.say the University should have the
right to punish students - rights
beyond the hardly-used 1973 Rules
of the University Community - if
they commit crimes or discrimina-
tory acts on campus.
NEW PRESIDENT James
Duderstadt, who oversaw the College
Of Engineering's honor code as dean
of that school, said he supports the
policy, adding that the University
should continue trying to improve
students' moral behavior outside the
classroom.
Code proponents are quick to
point out that other colleges across

the country, including the rest of the
Big Ten schools, have general be-
havior rules.
For example, the University of.
Wisconsin and Northwestern Unive-
rsity have rules that prohibit block-
ing buildings - which could include
sit-ins and other forms of protest.
Michigan State University's policy
includes a rule against entering or
staying in a university building after
the university closes.
Most universities have a judiciary
board to prescribe punishments for
specific behavior, punishments that
range from informal reprimand to
expulsion or suspension. Most uni-
versity codes, however, do not spe-
cifically apply to discriminatory be-
havior.

was not a code because it dealt
specifically with discrimination.
Though members had reservations
about the proposal, they affirmed
support for a general policy against
discrimination.
BSU Vice President Stephan
Tibbs did say the policy had "too
many stop gaps. There are too many
ways it can be altered." But, he ad-
ded, "we do not feel students are free
to pass out fliers and literature that
advocate hunting of Black people."
. UCAR released a statement say-
ing the University needs a policy
"because the pervasive and deep-
seeded problem of institutional ra-
cism is still very much a reality in
our society." Though the UCAR

e vaguest,
most ob-
code pro-
ate. Flem-
ement on
ation is the
nd loudest
u' to stu-
ears.'
tudent Eric
aufer, after
the anti-ha-
tent policy.
thority to write

WHEN Uni-
versity officials
first discussed the
need for a stronger
code in 1980, they
modeled proposals
after a new Uni-
versity of Maryland
policy. But stu-
dents consistently
resisted such a
code.
The code debate
dragged on, espe-
cially within the
University Coun-
cil, a nine-member
panel of students,
faculty, .and ad-
ministrators who
discussed rules for
non-academic con-
duct. Though for-
mer President Har-
old Shapiro gave
the council au-
a code in 1984; its

student members would not accept
any guidelines for student behavior.
But last year, after a series of
racist attacks on campus, including
offensive jokes aired on WJJX cam-
pus radio and a deluge of fliers
threatening minorities, students pro-
tested vehemently. The administra-
tion did nothing to combat such be-
havior, many said.
In fact, members of the third
Black Action Movement demanded
in 1987 that students who commit
racial acts be suspended or expelled.
ENTER INTERIM University
President Robben Fleming in Jan-
uary 1988. Fleming, who later called
the council process "a total failure,"
stunned the University by releasing
his own code draft to punish students
for harassment and discrimination
only six days after assuming office.
Fleming's proposal enraged anti-
code activists, many of whom said
he was ignoring the council process,
rather than trying to improve it.
"This is the vaguest, nastiest,
most obnoxious code proposed to
date," law student Eric Schnaufer
said after reading the draft. "Flem-
ing's statement on discrimination is
the boldest and loudest 'fuck you' to
students in years."
Though many praised Fleming's
initial document as the "first step"
toward combatting racist incidents
on campus, others said it limited
students' rights to free speech. Some
argued, for example, that racist re-

marks - no matter how disgusting
- are protected under the First
Amendment.
SUCH CRITICISM led
Fleming, shortly after spring break,
to release a revised version of his
draft. While the first draft set vague
guidelines and hearing procedures,
the second was more specific.
Under the second draft, students
are subject to punishment for "any
behavior, verbal or physical, which
stigmatizes or victimizes an individ-
ual on the basis of race, ethnicity,
religion, sex, sexual orientation,
creed, national origin, ancestry, age,
marital status, handicap or Vietnam
veteran status."
The document called for a hearing
panel of four students and a faculty
member to review harassment com-
plaints and punish guilty students.
Punishments, the document said,
would range from a formal reprimand
to suspension or expulsion.
The revised version received more
support. One week after its release,
the faculty's Senate Advisory Com-
mittee on University Affairs said it
favored the new document. SACUA
qualified its support, however, by
demanding that similar procedures be
set up for faculty and staff.
A COMMITTEE of faculty
and staff members submitted such
procedures for discussion in June.
The proposed policy is similar to the
student one, and incorporates
grievance procedures the faculty has
used for years.
But not everyone was happy with
the new proposal. The American
Civil Liberties Union, which main-
tains there should be no restrictions
on free speech, consistently opposed
the policy.
Jean King, chair of the ACLU's
Washtenaw County branch, said
"Some awful things have been hap-
pening on campus." But she argued
that under Fleming's policy even
criticisms of affirmative action could
be interpreted as racist speech.
"The University set up its own
judicial system as if it doesn't even
belong to the country," said King,
adding that the policy's due process

is inadequate. Education, she said, is
a more effective way to combat
racism.
AFTER TWO weeks of com-
munity debate and several revisions
on the student document, Fleming
proposed it to the regents for ap-
proval. During the week before the
regents' monthly meeting, student
groups including the Black Law
Student Alliance came up with de-
tailed critiques of Fleming's policy.
BLSA gave a five-page statement
on the policy to the regents, saying
the groups supported an anti-harass-
ment policy. "We recognize that the
University agreed last year to im-
plement such a policy during its ne-
gotiations with the Black Action
Movement III and the United Coali-
tion Against Racism," the statement
said.
"Students feel uncomfortable
walking to the library at night," the
statement said. "The discomfort of
students of color creates a situation
which prevents us from using our
energies to study and learn. Instead
our minds are distracted by behaviors
and actions designed to intimidate
and harass us."
MEMBERS OF the Black
Student Union said Fleming's policy

statement said the
not "a fair, com-
prehensive and eq-
uitable racial ha-
rassment policy,"
it also said the
document was not
a code.
THESE AND
other campus
groups met in gru-
eling, all-night
sessions to discuss
their opposition to
Fleming's policy,
believing that a
"unified front" was
the most effective
way to lobby the
regents against
Fleming's pro-
posal.
"Either we have
a unified front, or

policy was
'We recog
the Univer
last year
plement su
icy during
gotiations
Black
Movemen
the United
Against R
Black
dent Alli
ment on1

we faction off and have Fleming's
proposal shoved down out throats,"
said recent LSA graduate David
Newblatt, former co-chair of the
University Council.
The groups came up with one
statement after three nights of meet-
ings, calling Fleming's proposal an
"inadequate response" to racism on
campus. After that, the meetings -
which were closed to reporters -
reportedly broke up..
MSA released its own statement
to the regents, demanding that any
policy go through the University
Council, that the student body vote

thing," she said. "I have six kids'
and I would never have done that
(passed such a policy) to my chil4
dren."
The anti-harassment policy has
gone through several revisions sinc
the first regents' meeting. In Aprit
Johnson said his office would not
hire an administrator for the policy
until fall. Meanwhile, ad hoc com-
mittees planned to handle any com-
plaints. As for this year - if anc
when cases come up - the Univer.
sity will finally learn how effectivet
threatening, or oppressive its polic
will be. And so will students.

on it, and that students and worker
oversee any policy on racial harass':
ment.
MSA ALSO requested more,
time, because Fleming released his;
revised policy only two weeks before:
the regents' meeting. The regepts-
denied the request, instead giving the;
University a month to make more;
suggestions on improving the polt=
icy. The next month, the regentU
passed the document - by a 5-2
vote - with only small wording.
changes.
During the emotional meeting,
Regent Paul Brown (D-Petoskey-
said the policy was "one step...,tq
create a better climate on this camp
pus."
Regent Veroni
Smith (R-Grosse,
Ile), however, ve-.
;nize that hemently opposed"
sity agreed the proposal, cal;
ling it "vague..;,
to im- This is a form of;
censorship. We are;
ich a pol- saying to students
g its ne- that this is how
they're going tq
with the behave. We're ink;
A c t i o n stilling fear in then.
minds that they,
It III and can't speak theiv'
I Coalition being accused o,
acism.' harassment."
.acisml.' DURING A:
recent interview,
{ Law Stu- Smith said shy
continues to object
iance state- to the policy:
the policy. "Anything that red
presses free speecl(
is not a gooq

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