Students Petition Janet Napolitano to Drop Charges Against 2 UCI Student Activists
Photo by Charles Lam Activists march during the November AFSCME strike
How does a university get rid of an activist problem? Well, according to a Change.org petition that began circulation yesterday, the university threatens visible student activists with disciplinary action and criminal charges.
The petition, entitled "Stop the Suppression of Student Activism at the University of California," asks that the University of California and UC System President Janet Napolitano drop all student conduct charges against two notable student activists, Lisa Lei and Jordan Brocious, connected to protests and demonstrations last fall.
"Lisa Lei and Jordan Brocious have been targeted with unjust accusations by the UCI police department and the University of California for expressing their concerns about the University of California and the appointment of Janet Napolitano," reads the petition. "...The impact of these charges is that it will silence student voices at the University of California. Brocious and Lei are being targeted because they are visible campus activists who have been vocal in supporting workers' rights and who have raised concerns about campus climate in relation to Janet Napolitano and her presence of President of the University of California."
Photo by Charles Lam Signs line the windows of Donald Bren Hall during Napolitano's October visit to the campus
Over 300 people have signed the petition, which began circulation March 10. It must reach 1,000 signatures before being officially delivered.
Lei and Brocious' conduct charges are related to their actions this past fall.
The first incident happened during UC System President Napolitano's visit to the Irvine campus on Oct. 28, when Napolitano met behind closed doors with members of the Associated Students of UCI, Associated Graduate Students, and members of the Cross Cultural Center, as well as UCI administrators. That day, roughly 80 students attempted to gain access to a room being used to host the meetings, prompting a shoving match between activists and UCIPD. No arrests were made that day.
Several charges are also related to an AFSCME 3299 strike that took place Nov. 22. During a march following the initial rally, activists briefly blocked an intersection and got in a extremely brief shoving match with the manager of a UCI dining hall. No arrests were made that day either.
If a student is found in violation of the UCI Student Code of Conduct, they can face penalties from a written warning to probation, suspension, and expulsion, according to the UCI Code of Student Conduct.
Lei is also facing criminal charges related to the Oct. 28 visit by President Napolitano. The Orange County District Attorney's Office charged Lei with one misdemeanor count of battery against a peace officer and one misdemeanor count of obstructing a peace officer several months after the events allegedly took place. Lei is fighting the charges, and the case is currently in pre trial meetings.