Marking the fourth meeting of the fall quarter, the ASUCR senate approved the passage of two resolutions: one to create a “sanctuary” for undocumented UC students and another to revise UCR policies on the assembly of 25 or more individuals on campus.
Senators support greater freedom of expression on campus
Young Americans for Liberty President Ben Roden authored a resolution entitled, “Resolution to Revise Policies Limiting Student Speech and Assembly,” which called for the UCR administration to revise its current policies for holding large events on campus.
The resolution first cites an instance on Sept. 17 at Modesto Junior College (MJC), where students were barred from passing out copies of the U.S. Constitution in celebration of Constitution Day. MJC campus officials stated that the students needed prior permission from the university before passing out literature and were required to stay within a designated “free speech zone.”
Similar policies are also enacted at UCR, which mandate that students obtain permission prior to holding an event with more than 25 people and that the events should be confined within a certain area on campus. Violators may face university or legal sanctions, which the resolution claims can limit a student’s right to freedom of expression entitled to them in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“UCR is intended to be a prominent public venue for the open and free exchange of ideas, where the right of discussion and expression of all views is a basic principle,” proclaims the resolution.
Cited in the resolution’s footnote, the 1984 Supreme Court case of Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence established that “time, place and manner” restrictions can be placed on the freedom of expression if they are “narrowly tailored” to “serve a substantial governmental interest” and allow open channels of dialogue. This laid the constitutional groundwork for the resolution to remove further free speech limitations instilled in UCR’s current campus policies.
UCR’s own “Public Expression and Assembly: Time, Place and Manner” rules create a framework to conduct campus protests and protect individual rights, as part of the university’s rules and regulations. Under the general provisions, “Any activity that is pre-advertised, requires sound amplification, or can reasonably be expected to attract a crowd of 25 or more, must be scheduled in advance through the Highlander Event Scheduling office and is limited to the Bell Tower or Speaker’s Mound area.”
Roden stated that the resolution serves as a “pre-emptive” measure to address the “overly broad” speech and assembly policies that may be left vulnerable to wide interpretations by administrators, as seen at MJC.
“ASUCR supports the right for students to exercise free speech in the First Amendment and urges the UCR administrators to revise the Public Assembly and Expression policy so that it is fully consistent with the (U.S.) Constitution.” reads the resolution.
Exceptions to the provision, as read in the resolution, do not protect students who make excessive noise that interrupts instruction, research and other university functions, block vehicle or pedestrian traffic; events requiring sound amplification must first be approved.
The resolution was unanimously passed by the senate, which received overwhelming applause from members of the audience.
When asked about UCR’s current free speech policies, UCR Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jim Sandoval expressed, “Twenty-five’s not a magical number, but one of the reasons is once you get a crowd of some folks, there’s a potential for disruption of other activities.” He used the Wednesday nooners at the Bell Tower as an example and explained that the reservation process was needed in order to minimize competition for space between different student organizations.
But Sandoval also elaborated that most of the principles resurrected in the resolution aligned strongly with the university’s core interests.
“I applaud the resolution. I think it’s a very responsible resolution and it’s entirely consistent with the values that we have here at UC Riverside and it’s something that we absolutely embrace and can work with ASUCR on,” he said.
Senate resolution calls for Napolitano to support undocumented students
Another resolution entitled, “Janet Napolitano: Appointment as University of California President In Support of Undocumented Students,” was brought to the table. Main aspects of the resolution call for Napolitano to take a more concerted effort in offering greater protections and increased dialogues with undocumented UC students.
Drafted by members of the Highlander Lobby Corps, the resolution raised concerns over Napolitano’s immigration policies during her time as the former secretary of homeland security and governor of Arizona, which “disastrously affected the welfare of undocumented persons and their families,” according to the resolution.
The resolution reads that in order to create a “sanctuary” for undocumented students, UC policies “Cannot disclose information regarding an individual’s immigration status,” “prohibit the use of UC funds or resources to assist Immigration and Customs” and “will not collaborate enforcement with arrests and the gathering or dissemination of information regarding the immigration status of an individual in all UC campuses.”
Intensive dialogues in support of the resolution sprung from student speakers, urging Napolitano to ensure campuses’ inclusiveness for undocumented students.
Mariely Adame, a third-year liberal studies major spoke about how her status as an undocumented student created much adversity in her pursuit for a college education.
“As much as our school is big on diversity, I didn’t feel welcome at all as an undocumented student. With no financial aid, being unable to afford books, and as a commuter, I feel alienated at school,” said Adame. “My point here today is just to show that passing this resolution is not just a political issue — it is very personal, affecting the lives of many students like myself. So please support us, support your peers, support your classmates (and) support UCR.”
Several other students stood up to voice their opinion regarding the passage of the resolution, which calls for mandatory UCPD training on “the rights of undocumented communities to prevent harassment and criminalization.”
Joanna Kilambi, fourth-year media and cultural studies major, expressed her support. “I believe the passing of this resolution is a much needed step toward providing equality for all students regardless of background, culture or ethnicity,” she said.
Many ASUCR members also joined in the conversation. Vice President of External Affairs Kareem Aref stated that it is especially important for senators as student representatives to understand the concerns and the real-life situations that these undocumented students have and face. Senator Abraham Galvan also urged for the resolution’s passage as a form of support and validation for the undocumented students’ struggles.
“I, myself, was undocumented until March of last year so I am privileged to know what it feels like to live as an undocumented (student) here in the U.S. For me, this could have been a real issue,” said Galvan. “I think that we need to recognize the privilege that we have today as documented (students), because we don’t have to worry about the accessibility and affordability issues that we as regular students face. This resolution is a step forward into recognizing and validating those feelings of the undocumented students.”
The senators decided to publicly declare their preference of the resolution through a standing vote in order to increase transparency throughout ASUCR; senators unanimously voted in favor of the passage of the resolution.
Vice President of Campus Internal Affairs Johnny Ta reported that a solar smoothie event would be held on Nov. 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Also on Nov. 23, the Community Garden will host a mini concert with local bands.
CHASS Senator Michael Ervin is working with Vice President of External Affairs Kareem Aref to allocate budget funds to contribute to an art contest.
CHASS Senator Nayeli Figueroa is looking for student clubs and organizations to adopt the fossil fuel divestment campaign.
A senate town hall meeting will be held on Friday Nov. 20 from 2 p.m – 4 p.m at HUB 269. All senators are expected to attend.
Members of ASUCR passed a revision of chapter two of the senate bylaws, which requires senators to carry out specific duties, such as attending all senate meetings, or face possible impeachment.
Contributions to this article also made by Christyna Pourhabib.