Dear Chancellor Gillman,
We are writing on behalf of the Irvine Faculty Association about UCI’s recent response to student protest on campus. UCI referred some protesters of the May 18, 2016 screening of the film “Beneath the Helmet” to the OC District Attorney, which we consider wrong and inappropriate in advance of a UCI report of serious misconduct by UCI students.
UCI needs to be clear on what basis it forwards allegations of misconduct on campus to the police. This information needs to be public at a public university. UCI’s response to protest against Israel should be consistent with its response to other protest or student conduct on campus.
We therefore ask for a clear policy statement on UCI’s referral of conduct cases to the DA—what the procedures are for forwarding cases to the DA, and when such forwarding has occurred or should occur.
It’s been reported in the press that students attending the screening said they were threatened by protesters and called the UC police. We take their charge seriously and believe all our students deserve to be safe and protected from harassment and intimidation. This applies to the protestors as well. UCI should investigate all student complaints fairly, and have compelling and complete evidence of criminal action before referring student conduct cases to the State. It is the IFA’s position that protest should not be referred to the DA in order that the DA determine whether there is reason to refer the actions to the DA.
We therefore hereby ask for the official police report on the student protest of “Beneath the Helmet” on May 18, 2016.
Particularly in cases of protest, free speech, and related activities, no case should be forwarded to the DA unless and until meaningful review has been carried out by appropriate UCI bodies, following an accepted process that determines whether students violated not only UCI policy but the criminal code. UCI should gather the complete evidence available about the event, and review it in a fair and consistent manner. To the best of our understanding, this review has not been carried out here. Instead you sent a letter to the UCI community the day after the event, criticizing the protesters for “crossing a line” into “uncivil” behavior, based on allegations that have yet to be investigated. To this day, no UCI review body or evidence of actions on either side of the dispute has been made public.
We therefore call on UCI to publicly withdraw the case from criminal investigation until such review process can be engaged fully, and to follow consistent and fair practices when doing so.
We look forward to your response at your earliest convenience.
The IFA board