Report Advises UC on Better Protest Management

May 7, 2012

To better manage protest situations and avoid future conflicts like the ones stemming from the Occupy protests this fall, a draft report says University of California campuses should – among other things – modify their policies to recognize civil disobedience as a protest tactic, open lines of communication between administrators and would-be protesters, better train police on how to respond to civil disobedience, adopt policies that would guide officers if administrators decide police response is necessary, and adopt a systemwide post-event review structure independent from the police or administration.

Following high-profile and at-times violent confrontations this fall between police and students at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Davis, UC system President Mark G. Yudof requested a review of UC policies and practices regarding institutional responses to campus demonstrations, which would include identification of best practices in hopes of avoiding future conflicts. “This report is premised on the belief that free expression, robust discourse, and vigorous debate over ideas and principles are essential to the mission of our university,” wrote authors Charles Robinson, UC general counsel, and Christopher Edley, law dean at the University of California at Berkeley. “The goal of this report is to identify practices that will facilitate such expression – while also protecting the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, police, and the general public. For some campus administrators and police, this will require a substantial shift away from a mindset that has been focused primarily on the maintenance of order and adherence to rules and regulations. For some protestors, this will require taking more responsibility for their activities as well, including by educating themselves about protest-related rules and considering the impact acts of civil disobedience can have on others in the campus community.”

The report features 50 recommendations in nine areas including civil disobedience challenges, relationship building, hiring and training, communications with protestors, and response and documentation during events. The public can submit comments through May 25, and Yudof will receive the final draft “by late May.”

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