The Politics of Policing: U of M Reviewing Draconian Trespass Policy at Urging of ACLU
In 2008 to Dr. Andrei Borisov, a 15-year employee of U-M who had been raising questions about how some grant money was being used in the pediatrics/cardiology department. Following a meeting in which his superiors asked for his resignation, Borisov said he was escorted to his office by police officers who read a trespass warning to him and then arrested him when he attempted to take his briefcase. Borisov was acquitted of the charges he faced as a result of the incident, said his attorney, Deborah Gordon of Bloomfield Hills. He has subsequently filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against U-M. — Detroit Free Press, January 27, 2011.
Thanks to pressure from the undergraduate chapter of the ACLU, Dr. Mary Sue Coleman has issued an order that the University of Michigan’s aggressive, and possibly illegal, trespass policy be reviewed. According to documents recently released by university officials, since 2001 Michigan has issued 2,000 trespass citations in effect banning 2,000 individuals from various parts of its campus, including The Diag, University of Michigan Hospital and the UGLI. In comparison, over the “past several decades,” according to the Freep’s reporting, Oakland University has issued 400 persona non grata letters to individuals. Over the past three years, Michigan State University officials have banned just 57 individuals.
Michael Steinberg, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan was quoted in the Freep article as saying, ”We’re concerned that the policy will be abused and that it has been abused.”
An Assistant professor at Wayne State’s Law School, who obviously understands the law, but whose tenure had better not hinge on subject-verb agreement, explained that the University of Michigan’s Trespass policy allegedly neglects to respect due process. “Other potential issues, said Lund, is that officers can issue the warnings without any notice and without any hearing and that the policy allows officers to cite people who are merely suspected of committing a crime.”
When questioned by the Freep reporter, U of M’s Deputy Police Chief summed up the problem, thusly: ”We get a lot of people, of a criminal element, who come on our campus and prey on our students.”
And those are just the football coaches and big donors. The man (a former student who never graduated) after whom Michigan’s medical library is named did time.
Is due process necessary on a college campus? The University’s answer may surprise us all. Just don’t ask the many faculty whose requests for tenure are made under the auspices of a secretive system that would fit right in at the Doge’s Palace in 12th Century Venice—secret denunciations and all. Come to think of it, the Stadium Bridge could serve as a lovely stand in for the Bridge of Sighs.
Stay tuned, but stay off campus, while the University of Michigan’s President, in the spirit of Oliver’s Fagin, continues “Reviewing the Situation.”
Oh, for those scratching your heads about the image I chose to accompany this entry, scratch no more. It is a photo of the s0-called Lion’s Mouth Post Box in the Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy. The text, translated, says, “Secret denunciations against anyone who will conceal favors and services or will collude to hide the true revenue from them.”
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