The Committee on University Discipline for Disruptive Conduct is asked to review and make recommendations about procedures for student disciplinary matters involving disruptive conduct including, interference with freedom of inquiry or debate. This Committee is established following a sequence of faculty reports and actions: the reports delivered by the Committee on Dissent and Protest (chaired by David Strauss, 2014), the Committee on Freedom of Expression (chaired by Geoffrey Stone, 2015), and the update to Statute 21 of the University Statutes (2013), which was approved by the Council of the University Senate and the University’s Board of Trustees.
Recent incidents at University events, where audience members foreclosed discourse by shouting down speakers and otherwise interfered with the opportunity of attendees to hear those speakers and appropriately contest their ideas if they so desired, threaten the core University values of legitimate dissent and protest and free expression that the Strauss and Stone Reports reaffirm. The Committee on Dissent and Protest Report states 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 Committee on Freedom of Expression Report reaffirms 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.”
Statute 21 defines disruptive conduct to include, among other things, “obstruction, impairment or interference with University sponsored or authorized activities or facilities in a manner that is likely to or does deprive others of the benefit or activity of the activity of facility” and provides that any member of the University community who engages in disruptive conduct will be subject to disciplinary action. Further, Section 22.214.171.124 of the Statutes charges the Council of the University Senate with the authority to formulate rules and procedures, including hearings, to address matters of student conduct that violate Statute 21.
In 1970, the Council of the University Senate instituted the All-University Disciplinary System to address such conduct. This System was amended in 1976. It saw little use due in part to cumbersome procedures, prompting the Committee on Protest and Dissent to recommend its reevaluation. Given the increase in disruptive conduct at the University as defined by Statute 21, it is important that an improved system be developed and approved.
With respect to disruptive conduct at the University as defined by Statute 21, the Committee is asked to:
- Review and make recommendations to revise or replace the disciplinary procedures and standards set forth in the All-University Disciplinary System;
- Specifically address the range of disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed under the All-University Disciplinary System;
- Make recommendations for responses in the midst of an event where disruptive individuals prevent others from speaking or being heard;
- Review and make recommendations as to how to handle individuals who engage in disruptive conduct and who are not members of the University community; and
- Complement the above recommendations with advice on educational programming to discuss with students the rights and responsibilities conferred by the freedom of expression on our campus so that they recognize that their right to free expression is the same right that they and we must accord to others, including those whose speech may be offensive and even loathsome.
As disciplinary action for disruptive conduct as defined under Statute 21 is required, it is important that an improved system be developed and approved as expeditiously as possible. I therefore ask that you submit your recommendations by December 15, 2016.
- Randal C. Picker, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ludwig & Hilde Wolf Teaching Scholar (Committee Chair)
- Daniel Abebe, Harold J. and Marion F. Green Professor of Law
- Kerwin Charles, Deputy Dean and Edwin and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor in the Harris School of Public Policy
- Jane Dailey, Associate Professor, Department of History and the College
- Karen Kim, Professor of Medicine and Dean for Faculty Affairs in the Biological Sciences Division
- Jeanne Marsh, George Herbert Jones Distinguished Service Professor in the School of Social Service Administration
- Carole Ober, Blum-Riese Professor and Chair, Department of Human Genetics
- Michele Rasmussen, Dean of Students in the University
- Christopher Wild, Associate Professor, Deputy Dean, and Collegiate Master, Department of Germanic Studies and the College
Please direct inquiries to Ingrid Gould