Protocol for Responding to Peaceful Assembly or Protest on the Property of the University of California, Merced
Free and open association, discussion and debate are important aspects of the educational environment and are part of the rich culture and history of the University of California.
To that end, it is essential that the leadership of UC Merced ensures peaceful assemblies and protests are protected and encouraged on the campus and properties of UC Merced.
Moreover, the Chancellor and campus leadership encourage frequent interaction and discussion between and among members of the campus community to ensure open avenues of communication around areas of concerns.
At the same time, university leadership must ensure that the normal academic, research and administrative activities of the university can be carried out in an environment that is safe and free from intimidation or harassment.
Therefore, the Chancellor of UC Merced has established the following protocol to ensure that these potentially conflicting rights are protected and judiciously balanced during peaceful assemblies or protests on the properties of the University of California, Merced. The protocol includes a clear delineation of divisional duties and responsibilities and mandatory procedures for the prior review of any decision to use force or other means to disperse, manage or control crowds or to defuse non-emergency but potentially dangerous, destructive or harmful situations affecting people or property or the ability of the university to carry out its teaching, research and service mission.
The U.S. Constitution and the policies and traditions of the University of California protect the right to peaceful assembly and protest. These rights shall not be abridged at UC Merced provided they are exercised in a manner that does not violate criminal statutes or unreasonably impede the teaching, research, service, and administrative activities of the university, its students, faculty, administrators, staff, suppliers and others who have a need to come and go safely and freely.
The term “peaceful” is interpreted to include conduct that may annoy or give offence to persons opposed to the ideas or claims than an assembly is promoting. It is also interpreted to include nonviolent conduct such as passive resistance or sit-down blockades that impede or obstruct the activities of a third party. When peaceful assemblies or protests include civil disobedience and are in violation of applicable laws or regulations, there may be legal or judicial consequences. But the existence of police powers to intervene and disperse an unlawful but peaceful assembly does not mean that such powers should be exercised.
Actions by campus police to intervene in a peaceful assembly or protest only will be taken following consultation with and approval by the Chancellor, who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that force is used as a last resort when negotiations have failed, and the disruption to the mission of the University is substantial or a threat exists to the safety of persons or property. The Chancellor may delegate responsibility for this decision but in doing so must maintain civilian control.
As needed, the Chancellor or designee will convene a Protocol Oversight Group (POG) to collaboratively oversee peaceful assemblies and protests on campus. The POG is responsible for operating in a manner that continually re-assesses the event and objectives, and emphasizes teamwork, timely and effective communication and actions that support the university’s teaching, research and service missions while protecting and respecting the right to peacefully assemble and protest. It is the university’s explicit intention to accomplish these goals with the least possible show or use of force or other means of control. In situations where this objective cannot be met, clear protocols for escalation identified in the University of California “Response Option Framework”, and recommended by the POG and approved by the Chancellor, must be understood and strictly observed by all law-enforcement personnel.
In the rare event of an imminent and substantial threat of harm to persons or property, and with no reasonable opportunity to consult with the Chancellor or designee, Campus Police will follow the UC “Response Option Framework” for responding. The Chief of Police is responsible for exercising sound judgment and appropriate restraint.
MEMBERSHIP AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PROTEST OVERSIGHT GROUP:
The POG shall consist of the senior officer, or his or her designee, from each of the divisions identified below. Responsibilities of each member are as outlined:
Office of the Chancellor:
- Set expectations for monitoring and managing the event
- Designate appropriate individual as Chancellor’s representative “on the ground” to event organizers/protest leaders and law enforcement
- Designate independent observers
- Ensure appropriate and effective communication between event organizers/protesters, senior administrators, and law enforcement
- Appoint or designate mediator as appropriate
- Appoint a designee with decision-making authority if the Chancellor is unavailable.
- Make decisions regarding police action against protesters on the property of UC Merced, except in emergency situations (threat of imminent and substantial harm to persons or property)
- Provide direct communication with the UC Office of the President
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs:
- Direct personal communication with students regarding interpretation of policies, expectations, academics, student discipline, and general guidance provided by the UC Merced Principles of Community; health and safety requirements; federal, state and local laws; and university policy
- Monitor mental and physical health of students
- Identify and communicate health, safety, security and academic needs to the POG
- Communicate with parents and student caregivers as appropriate
- Appoint a spokesperson for media interviews, if appropriate, in consultation with the Office of University Communications
- Provide planning guidance to students
- Designate an “on the ground” liaison if students are involved in the protest
Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor:
- Direct communication with faculty regarding all appropriate aspects of faculty involvement in peaceful assemblies or protests
- Initiate educational opportunities, when appropriate, around issues of protest
- Communicate with the Chancellor all recommendations to alter daily campus business as usual, to facilitate the immediate needs of the students and faculty regarding the issues of protest or the safety of the campus.
- Appoint academic spokesperson for media interviews, if appropriate, in consultation with the Office of University Communications
Designate an “on the ground” liaison if faculty or instructional staff are involved in the protest
Office of Human Resources:
- Direct communication with employees and labor union representatives regarding interpretation of policies, expectations, employee discipline and general guidance provided by the UC Merced Principles of Community; health and safety requirements; federal, state and local laws; and university policy
- Monitor mental and physical health of employees
- Identify and communicate health, safety and security needs to the POG
- Designate an “on the ground” liaison if staff are involved in the protest
Office of University Communications:
- Develop communications/media strategy and news points
- Recommend and provide oversight of all media outlets, interviews, releases and press conferences
- Monitor news coverage and blogosphere to provide real-time feedback to decision-makers
- Designate official event videographer, if appropriate
Office of Facilities Management:
- Provide facilities support as identified by POG including but not limited to:
o Sanitation and trash receptacles and pick up
o Building-access control
o Grounds maintenance and irrigation control
o Facility maintenance
o Safety, health and security equipment needs
o Transportation and parking needs
Office of Environmental Health and Safety:
- Monitor and provide guidance for meeting the fire, health and safety needs during sustained protests
Office of Governmental and Community Relations:
- Provide communication to governmental entities as appropriate, in coordination with the Office of University Communications
Department of Public Safety:
- Provide continuous and appropriate levels of security for the safety of all involved people and UC property
- Ensure all on and off-campus responding law-enforcement personnel are thoroughly briefed on the chancellor’s authority and the UC Response Option Framework.
- Identify one UC Merced police official responsible for giving an order to use force prior to deployment and establish direct line of communication with the Chancellor’s on the ground representative
- As needed, and upon the directive of the Chancellor or designee, activate the POG Operations Center and provide 24/7 staffing for the center to monitor the event and coordinate communications and response
- Provide proactive planning guidance to affiliates if requested
- Identify staffing needs and proactively request appropriate levels of staffing from UC campuses, CSU campuses, CHP, local law enforcement agencies, fire and EMS when appropriate for the safety, security and timely response of or to the needs of the community
- Provide violence-prevention education and advocacy support as appropriate
- Establish, if necessary, field incident command post and communicate the location to the POG
- Assist in identifying non-affiliates participating in a sustained or encampment protest
The office/department designated as the lead for the event by the Chancellor will compile an after-action report to be presented to the Chancellor no later than 30 days following the end of the event. A summary of observations and recommendations from the official observers must be included in the after-action report.