Illustration by Louise Leong.
Illustration by Louise Leong.

In the continuing battle for student rights, the students of UC Santa Cruz have gained a powerful ally in the university faculty. Over 100 professors and lecturers showed support for the students of UCSC in a letter to the administration condemning the disciplinary actions regarding the November occupation of Kerr Hall. And, unlike the administration’s usual mode of communication, there was no deceptive wording, no polite hedging or stepping-around the issue. Faculty are alarmed, as they very well should be.

The faculty members are concerned, as are we at City on a Hill Press, at the ways in which the university has repeatedly denied these students what so many American citizens have come to take for granted as a fundamental right — the right to due process.

In an institution of higher learning, it is ridiculous to make such an accusation among adults, but the actions of the administration have shown that bullying has no age limit.

Let me catch you up on the latest episode of the students vs. school saga. In response to the outcry from faculty members, the administration has attempted to placate the angry students and teachers with a slight concession. Twenty-eight students may now appeal for an in-person hearing with a single administrator, the appellate officer, rather than appealing in writing. While this is technically good news, it still brings about the question: what is the point of having a student judicial court if it isn’t going to be used?

The student judicial court comprises of three Student Union Assembly members, one staff member, and one faculty member — a number of individuals with a number of viewpoints, all prepared to discuss and deliberate before assigning responsibility. Is it just for show, a pretense at a fair decision-making process? That students are denied due process while there is a system in place that would allow them this constitutional right just adds insult to injury.

Also, it is important to call into question the damaging evidence that one single administrator found, unequivocally condemning 36 people of 10 different charges. In the case of several of the students, the evidence presented proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had damaged plumbing, paint, lighting, and office equipment. This damning pronouncement was based on … drumroll, please … a single photo taken by an individual at the protest.

And this photo was not an image of the individuals actually engaging in these actions, mind you, but a photo of one student in or around the building in which the damages occurred. Any system that would allow students to be charged almost $1,000 based on a single photo (in one student’s case, a photo that was mistakenly identified since she wasn’t even there) needs reform.

Because of this, and many other obvious and appalling injustices the administration has imposed upon the students presence at the peaceful protest, City on a Hill Press joins the faculty of UCSC in calling for reform of the university’s judicial process in future and current circumstances, and we applaud the professors and lecturers who stood up for the rights of their students.