Time constraints prohibit me from elaborating on this. Read for yourselves :-)
Posted by Lisa at November 18, 2003 12:07 PM | TrackBack
Help Free The Berkeley 3!
11-17-03- Drop All Charges Against The Berkeley 3!
Free speech at Berkeley is under attack. Anti-war student organizers need your immediate help.
Call, email or write to: Asst. Chancellor John Cummins Office of the Chancellor 200 California Hall #1500 Berkeley, CA 94720-1500 firstname.lastname@example.org 510-642-7464
**Please CC your emails to the administration to: DefendBerkeley3@aol.com
Dean of Students Karen Kenney turned the clock back decades by approving sanctions against three Berkeley students for their part in a peaceful on campus sit-in on March 20 (for more details go to www.antiwarnetwork.org). The protest was organized by the Berkeley Stop the War coalition and involved 4,000 students at a rally with 400 participating in the sit-in. Rachel Odes and Snehal Shingavi face 20 hours of community service and a letter of reprimand permanently placed on their academic record. Michael Smith faces 30 hours of community service, plus a stayed suspension for one semester. Outrageously, Smith will be forced to submit to "anger management" at the university's infirmary. If he completes that "successfully," his suspension might be commuted to a letter of reprimand. This use of psychological treatment as punishment for a political activity recalls the classification of dissent as a "psychiatric disorder" in Stalinist Russia. Dean Kenney's actions mock Berkeley's reputation as a haven for freedom of speech and progressive political action.
Besides the obvious chilling effect on student's exercising their civil liberties on campus, the university continued its disregard for due process procedure in sentencing the students. For example:
*Chair of the Disciplinary Hearing Board Prof. Robert Jacobsen arbitrarily ruled that only 25 members of the Berkeley campus community could attend the hearing, despite repeated requests on the students' part that the hearing be open. At least 15 university police and private security guards barricaded the entrance to the hearing site to enforce this decision.
*Jacobsen missed the university-mandated deadline for issuing the disciplinary report.
*The university provides only unpaid undergraduates "advocates" to help with the defense. When the three students obtained legal representation on their own initiative, Jacobsen announced that he would allow the lawyer to participate only marginally in the hearings at his discretion as chair.
Following the hearing, the university announced that it would eliminate students' right to legal counsel so as to make the process more "educational." The Berkeley Daily Cal student newspaper editorial board correctly noted that: "To suggest students have something to learn from defending themselves already assumes their guilt." (http://www.dailycal.org/article.php?id=13525)
Perhaps the most shocking component of the administration's prosecution stemmed from its conception of "progressive discipline." Under this theory, students who take part in more than one political protest face harsher and harsher punishments. So, for instance, the university based its argument to prosecute Shingavi, at least in part, on the fact that he was the "point person" for a previous protest conducted by the Students for Justice in Palestine. Although he was not arrested or charged in connection with that protest, his association with that organization and protest helped single him out for "progressive discipline." This legal theory of "guilt by association" led the Daily Cal to editorialize that "by picking out only three, the message sent from the university seems to be that free speech includes the right to participate in a protest, but not the right to organize one." (http://www.dailycal.org/article.php?id=13176)
As the Bush administration carries out unprecedented attacks on hard won civil liberties, the Berkeley administration is shamefully jumping on the band wagon. Now that Dean Kenney has rubber-stamped Jacobsen's verdict, the last appeal goes to Asst. Chancellor John Cummins. He will issue his final decision within 15 days.
Ironically, on November 20, Amy Goodman from Pacifa Radio's "Democracy Now!" will receive the Mario Savio prize for free speech at a mass meeting on campus. The Berkeley Stop the War coalition plans to work with her to make sure that Asst. Chancellor Cummins hears the support for the Berkeley 3 loud and clear. We urge everyone who cares about free speech, the right to protest and academic freedom to take immediate action, by calling, emailing or writing to Cummins this week to demand that he drop all charges against the Berkeley 3. Especially, the frightening and irresponsible use of psychological "treatment" as a punishment for political activity.
We thank you in advance for you solidarity,
Todd Chretien Committee to Defend Student Civil Liberties
PS Many of you generously sent contributions towards the printing of a full page ad in the Daily Cal defending the Berkeley 3. That ad ran on October 27 and we believe it played an important part in forcing the university to back down from even harsher punishments for the students. (It can be viewed at www.antiwarnetwork.org) Some of you may have had your checks returned to you. That is because after the university found out that the Berkeley Stop the War coalition was soliciting defense donations, they took the unprecedented action of freezing all mail to that on-campus address. We are sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused you. If you'd like to re-send your contributions (or send one for the first time), you can send them to: BSTW PO Box 4001 Berkeley, CA 94704-0001