Saturday, March 20, 2004Chetly Zarko has posted an article on his website about the University's practice of using trespassing law to permanently ban people from campus - generally the homeless, mentally ill, or disgruntled employees. In this case, a former University Health Service employee was told she was no longer "allowed on the UHS grounds," after entering UHS carrying a sign to protest her dismissal. Zarko concludes: "Dr. Winfield grossly overreacted and violated her civil rights when he banned her from UHS grounds. If Ms. Sheridan actually committed a "criminal act," or violated some legitimate "rule of the university" in the "time, manner, or place" of her free expression; then she was entitled to due process and a hearing on the issue; in addition to a detailed explanation of where she overstepped her bounds."
Here's Zarko's account of the protest:
"Following her termination, Ms. Sheridan contacted several of the supervisors in her chain of command seeking additional information and lobbying to get some kind of concessions in her grievance procedure. She relayed the pain that she felt as someone who was retaliated against after seeking treatment for her problem; and that she was deeply troubled by how the inconsistent the University seemed on the issue of substance abuse treatment. As a result, on May 14th, 2003, she returned to UHS wearing a T-shirt with an "A" on the front and holding a sign saying "Alcoholic". She stated that she did this to show her fellow former co-workers and staff the inconsistency in U policy on the issue; and that she entered the building for a few minutes, spoke to some former co-workers, and then stood on the curb in front of the UHS buildings for about 5 minutes with her sign and left."
And on the University's practice of "reading trespass" to undesirables:
" ... In a conversation I had with Officer Piersanti in October, I asked some general questions about trespass enforcement. University officers are empowered to direct individuals off-campus if they are engaged in a violation of university rules; or they are empowered to arrest individuals and issue the semi-permanent "ban" from campus form if a person violates the law. If a person who violates a university rule, is directed to leave, and refuses to comply; then they could then be arrested for violation of trespass. Once a trespass warning is issued, it remains in effect in perpetuity unless the person seeks a reversal through DPS director Bill Bess. The "ban" is all inclusive from any and all University property; which is a quite expansive chunk of Ann Arbor and would include areas that some people wouldn't necessarily recognize as U-M property. Officer Bess is the final authority on the matter, with no further recourse or formal mechanism for appeal. ..."
> Chetly Zarko: "Banned from Campus! The story of how the U-Michigan administration used deputies to abuse the trespass statute and silence dissent"
Posted by Rob at 2:34 PM