To: All Faculty
From: Eric D. Isaacs
Re: Faculty Committee on University Discipline for Disruptive Conduct
Date: June 2, 2016
In recent years, faculty committees generated a series of reports and actions that articulate the University’s deeply held values concerning freedom of expression and the principles underlying protest and dissent on campus. Revisions to Statute 21 of the University Statutes (2013), approved by the Council of the Faculty Senate and the Board of Trustees, provided a basis for responses to issues involving free expression, including disciplinary action for disruptive conduct. The Report of the Committee on Dissent and Protest (chaired by David Strauss, 2014) affirmed that “dissent and protest are integral to the life of the University” and maintaining a community with dissent and protest “imposes obligations of mutual respect on everyone involved.” The Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression (chaired by Geoffrey Stone, 2015) reaffirmed the “freedom to debate and discuss” and the guarantee to all members of the University community of the right to “speak, write, listen, challenge and learn.” These steps have been well-received and influential, on our campus and nationwide.
To help put these values into practice, I have established a faculty committee to review and make recommendations about procedures for student disciplinary matters involving disruptive conduct, particularly interference with freedom of expression, inquiry and debate. I have asked the committee, as suggested in the Report of the Committee on Dissent and Protest, to reevaluate the All-University Disciplinary System. This system, approved in 1970 by the Council of the University Senate, was intended to address disruptive conduct but has seen little use due in part to cumbersome procedures.
The committee’s charge includes: 1) Conduct a review and make recommendations to revise or replace the disciplinary procedures and standards set forth in the All-University Disciplinary System; 2) Address the range of disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, and make recommendations for responses in the midst of any event that is being disrupted; 3) Consider proper responses to disruptions involving individuals who are not members of the University community, and 4) Provide recommendations for educational programming on the importance of freedom of expression, fostering understanding among students that their right to free expression is the same right that they and we must accord to others.
I have appointed the following members to the Committee on University Discipline for Disruptive Conduct: Daniel Abebe (Law), Kerwin Charles (Harris), Jane Dailey (History), Karen Kim (Medicine), Jeanne Marsh (SSA), Carole Ober (Human Genetics), Randy Picker (Law, Committee Chair), Michele Rasmussen (Dean of Students in the University), and Christopher Wild (Germanic Studies).
Because it is important that an improved system be developed and approved as expeditiously as possible, I am asking the committee to submit its recommendations by December 15, 2016.