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.”

You think?

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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2 Comments for “The Politics of Policing: U of M Reviewing Draconian Trespass Policy at Urging of ACLU”

  1. A2P Notes: This comment was edited.

    I notice that A2P deleted my (and ontological reality’s!!) needed correction to Mark Koroi’s notion that UM trespassed Blaine Coleman is a “noted human rights activist.” I thought the blog was made of sterner stuff, based on its ‘take no prisoners’ approach to far less offensive public figures than Blaine Coleman, so i’ll try again.

    An excellent series of articles ( “false witnesses” ) on the local jew baiter/synagogue harassers…among whom Coleman and his trespassed accomplices are foremost..appears in the WASHTENAW JEWISH NEWS issues for jan, feb and march 2010.

    In one such article from the Feb edition (“False Witnesses II: the devil’s in the details and vice versa”) the author…a retired academic who very much knows whereof he speaks.. aptly notes that the self-applied preening “human rights activist” and “progressive” labels used by the worst antisemitic bigots (like Coleman with his “fuck Israel ” signage, and their sycophants have as much reality as michael vick ( of dog fighting infamy) calling himself an “animal lover.”

    Toughen up, a2p, if you really want to be taken seriously as one of the ‘goodies’ in local political commentary.

    Those Koroi shills for are far more real ‘black hats’ than the poor mayor whom you regularly savage.

  2. The policy is blatantly unconstitutional.

    It took the Shirvell case to put the policy under needed legal scrutiny.

    Firstly, it grants a law enforcement officer unbridled discretion to issue such a notice.
    Without reasonably defined standards as to what is prohibited, the officer may use impermissible or arbtrary criteria to exclude a person from campus. An officer may have more sympathy for a person who may be an activist for gun control as opposed to an activist protesting against police brutality. In fact many of the people banned are political activists. One of those is Blaine Coleman, a local immigration attorney and noted human rights activist.

    Secondly, there is no fair pre-depriation of rights hearing and being put on this list could have future adverse impact on one’s ability to obtain a job or security clearance.

    Also, Under the Michigan Supreme Court decision in Crampton vs. Mich Dept of State a police official may not act a decisionmaker where legal violations are alleged. That case involved a police officer sitting on the Driver License Appeal Board.

    3,300 persons are on a list of those banned from U-M. The fact that only 57 are banned from MSU shows that U-M has gone overboard in forbidding members of the public from entering onto the University’s premises.

    I see this policy as possibly infringing on not only the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment but also the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Those espousing inflammatory rhetoric, which could be perfectly constitutionally protected speech, coud be banned on the whim of a police officer.

    A court test of the policy is needed and the ACLU is the perfect advocate for the United States Constitution.

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