D.O.C. students stay in class, cancel walkout

    Dimensions of Culture lectures remained full while Marshall Field, the site of a proposed walkout, was largely vacant of rallyists on Friday. The walkout of Thurgood Marshall College residents from their D.O.C. classes was averted as part of a compromise between the dean’s office and student organizers.

    Anna MacMurdo
    Guardian

    The rally was changed to an information session to rectify reports of what some students allege to be the unfair treatment of Marshall residents. The information session was the result of talks between Dean of Student Affairs Ashanti Houston-Hands and UCSD Cause organizer Danny Leibowitz. Leibowitz and his suitemates created UCSD Cause as part of their campaign to increase the rights of Marshall residents.

    “”This is a toned-down version of what we were going to do,”” Leibowitz said, referring to the information session held at Marshall Field, which consisted of Leibowitz and his fellow organizers handing out fliers to interested students.

    “”I certainly respect the students’ right to protest and to hold information sessions. I never like to see it be at the possibility of their grades suffering,”” Houston-Hands said. “”So I’m glad students who were interested were able to come by and get some information.””

    Anna MacMurdo
    Guardian

    The compromise calls for the redistribution of the regulations that residents are expected to follow to the residents and their resident advisers so everybody is on the same page, according to Houston-Hands.

    As part of the compromise, some evicted students were given until the end of the quarter to move out instead of the usual 14 days, according to Leibowitz.

    Additionally, UCSD Cause’s flier, which was handed out to students on Friday, says specific Marshall Residential Life officials and Residential Security Officers will be investigated for unfair treatment of residents, but Houston-Hands disagreed.

    “”I wouldn’t necessarily call it an investigation because I don’t have any specific information that’s coming directly from the individuals that have been impacted,”” she said.

    Although the rally was called off, a few students still left class to see what was going on. For the most part, lectures remained full.

    Marshall freshmen Mark Tate and Kelsey Wiedenhoefer were two of the few who left class for the information session, which consisted of two beach chairs and a box of flyers, to find out what progress was made.

    “”I’m glad there are people looking out for our interests,”” Tate said. “”I’m very glad it got resolved.””

    Tate and Wiedenhoefer’s teaching assistant assured them that they would not have points deducted from D.O.C., which has mandatory lecture attendance, if they bring back a flier from the rally, Wiedenhoefer said.

    UCSD student Julia Leach showed her support for solving the problem, which she knows all too well.

    “”I’ve seen firsthand how RSOs and administration can be unfair and inconsistent,”” she said. “”I don’t know how much this will change, but any change will be minimal.””

    She described the relationship between the RAs and residents as adversarial and said an “”us-versus-them”” atmosphere exists in the residence halls.

    UCSD student Alexis Boerger stopped by to get an update on the progress. She said she supports UCSD Cause because the residence halls are no longer a “”healthy living environment.””

    Organizers said they are pleased with the progress that has been made.

    Alex Chou, a suitemate of Leibowitz, said they succeeded because the goal was not to disrupt the school but raise awareness to their cause.

    “”It shows how much the administration is willing to work,”” Chou said. “”We expected it would be much harder.””

    They credit their Web site, www.geocities.com/ucsdcause, with getting the attention of the Marshall administration.

    The Web site registered over 1,300 hits according to Monte Swank, the site’s designer.

    “”It gave us a little bit of leverage,”” Leibowitz said. “”Enough to where the dean’s office was willing to compromise.””

    Houston-Hands downplayed the significance of the Web site, saying it just made her want to find out more about the situation.

    “”Had the same student come in to talk to me without that Web site, his concerns and questions would be just as valid,”” she said.

    The UCSD Cause Web site and fliers consist of quotes from D.O.C. readings. They sought to legitimize some of their complaints by referring to legal statutes such as equal protection, a civil right which is learned winter quarter in the justice segment of the D.O.C series.

    “”We have used a lot of constitutional arguments; some of it comes from D.O.C., but not all of it,”” Leibowitz said.

    Other references are to California law and the student handbook.

    D.O.C. professors did not play a role in helping with the movement, Leibowitz said.

    Paul Frymer of the sociology department lectures a D.O.C. justice class this quarter.

    “”Generally, we talk about equal protection, we talk about civil rights,”” Frymer said. “”I point out in my class that equal protection is a pretty narrow construct that applies to specific situations. It wouldn’t apply in this situation.””

    Marshall Provost Michael Schudson has taught the justice D.O.C. course in the past. He also disagrees with the application of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to punishment for violators of the campus’ alcohol policy.

    “”There is just no connection here; it’s a very giant leap,”” he said.

    Leibowitz conceded, saying, “”Equal protection, that is a D.O.C. issue … but know it doesn’t apply 100 percent to what we are doing.””

    Frymer doesn’t see D.O.C. as causing the movement.

    “”I don’t think the class is per se galvanizing anybody to go out and do something, but it sounds like they are taking at least some of it,”” he said. “”It’s good people are getting excited about what they learn.””

    Frymer and Schudson did, however, say that they are encouraged that the students seem to be taking something away from the class and applying it to their lives.

    “”If it was the students’ effort to really take seriously the concepts and ideals discussed in D.O.C., then wonderful: That’s what should be happening,”” Schudson said. “”I just don’t think it should be done in a vacuum without talking to the relevant people.””

    Schudson said he was somewhat displeased with the situation, and that he felt it was sensationalized by the Web site prior to the students coming to the administration with their complaints.

    Schudson stressed that the Marshall administration is open to students and willing to meet with them to do discuss all salient issues.

    Houston-Hands agreed that the best way to resolve differences is to communicate with students.

    “”Students should find ways to voice their opinions and address their concerns, but I’m a big advocate for sitting down and talking about issues,”” she said.

    The meeting between Houston-Hands and Leibowitz was enough to resolve the situation for the time being and keep students in class.

    Although UCSD Cause used some of the basic principles taught by D.O.C. in its arguments on the Web site, organizers said that it was just a part of their argument. Organizers also stressed that the idea to work from within the system for change was simply “”common sense.””

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