UCSD Committee Strips Students of Essential Rights

As of this academic year, UCSD students are prohibited from retaining legal representation in administrative hearings of misconduct. By revising section of the Student Code of Conduct, the Student Regulations Revision Committee — which, despite its name, is composed largely of administrators and staff — has struck a blow to the rights we have as students to defend ourselves against any university accusation of wrongdoing.

The Guardian condemns any practice of restricting the ways in which students can affect potentially pivotal events in their academic lives. In a process that can have a significant negative impact on people’s lives, a process in which students’ academic futures can be at stake, no option should be denied students for their own defense.

After the university got burned by the American Civil Liberties Union and its March 1999 lawsuit on behalf of UCSD student Ben Shapiro to revise the campus posting policy, the university took over a year-and-a-half to actually change the policy despite a federal court order to do so.

Despite the university’s “”oversight”” in enforcing a federal court order protecting students’ freedom of speech, it certainly did not fail to promptly thereafter rescind UCSD students’ right to have legal representation in administrative reviews allowed them since 1978, when the Student Code of Conduct was drafted. It seems the university is more concerned with curtailing students’ rights than it is with defending them.

It is clear to the Guardian that students’ rights are not getting the priority they deserve at UCSD. The new policy certainly does not benefit students, in that students accused of wrongdoing will not be permitted to have professionally trained representation protecting their rights. Student advocates — who are valuable resources in these situations — simply have not been through the years of schooling attorneys have, and they should not be the only option the accused have.

It is the view of the Guardian that nobody should dictate to students who are being accused of an offense how they should go about defending their own rights and interests.