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U of M Student Group Statement [ I intend to stop this line with
From: David Farber <farber () central cis upenn edu>
Date: Thu, 9 Feb 1995 18:04:39 -0500

Students' Civil Liberties Watch
A student group at the University of Michigan


Contacts: Ethan Kirschner
          ethank () umich edu


          Vincent Keenan
          keenan () umich edu


THURSDAY FEBRUARY 9, 1995
______________________________________________________________________________


        The Students' Civil Liberties Watch (SCLW) denounces the
University of Michigan's actions against sophomore Jake Baker, who was
suspended on Thursday, February 2.  The administration suspended Baker
under University of Michigan Regents' Bylaw 2.01, which gives the
President of the University authority for "the maintenance of health,
diligence, and order among the students."  The University has claimed
that Baker's January 9 post on a USENET internet mail group poses a
threat to student order.  Baker has a closed administrative hearing on
Thursday, February 9, and could be expelled from the University of Michigan.


        The USENET post consisted of a graphic and violent sexual story
about a University of Michigan woman whom he named.  Baker included a
disclaimer, stating that what he wrote was "sick stuff" and a "story".
He had never spoken to the woman, a student in one of his classes.


        Proving that Baker is a threat to student order will be difficult
for the University.  Baker posted the story on January 9, and was
suspended almost a month later.  In that time, Baker did not show an
intention to contact the University of Michigan woman.  Regents' Bylaw
2.01 is intended for use in situations of immediate emergency.  The post
was made to an internet news group to which one must subscribe, not to a
general mail service.  It was brought to the administration's attention
by a University alumnus living in Moscow.  It includes an explicit
disclaimer, indicating that this was only a story, neither a factual
account nor a future plan.


        The SCLW affirms that in order to preserve our liberties,
oftentimes we must defend reprehensible choices by questionable
individuals exercising those rights.  We firmly advocate public contempt
as a response to actions like Baker's.  The University, however, has no
legal basis for its claims, and has violated the spirit of the Bylaw.  In
addition, this behavior is not punishable under the current Statement of
Student Rights and Responsibilities.  We are further concerned about
Baker's rights to free speech, due process, and legal representation at
the February 9 administrative hearing.


        If Baker had physically assaulted this woman, the University's
response would have been within the established Statement procedure.  The
University reacted more harshly in this incident than if there had been a
physical assault.  The SCLW is concerned that this case involves the
regulation of student thought and expression.  Further, despite the
University's claims that the SSRR promotes standardization of procedure
and due process, President James J. Duderstadt chose to override SSRR
policy, although the SSRR itself contains provisions for emergencies on
campus.  The SSRR is extremely controversial, for several reasons: it
does not allow students legal representation; it allows statements made
in University Proceedings to be used in a criminal or civil proceeding,
forcing students not to participate in order to safeguard their rights in
that court; there is no subpoena power, although the use of affidavits
against the accused is permitted; and it applies to offenses committed
off campus.  The SCLW, composed entirely of University of Michigan
students, demands that the University defend its actions in the Jake
Baker case.


Ethan Kirschner, SCLW Chair
Vincent Keenan, Students' Rights Commission Chair of the Michigan Student
Assembly
Anne Marie Ellison
Pamela Short


**Press packets available upon request**


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