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Posted on Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 9:24 a.m.

New University of Michigan trespass policy takes effect after 2,000 banned in a decade

By Juliana Keeping

The University of Michigan has banned thousands of individuals from its public campus for life in the last decade - but the common practice should end today when a new policy takes effect.

U-M announced June 1 it revised a campus policy under which 2,050 individuals were barred from the public institution by the Department of Public Safety. The move followed months of reports detailing the policy's use.

Criminals were banned, as well as protesters, students, employees and alumni, an analysis found. Some of those barred claimed they’d been banished for life by campus police after speaking out against the institution.

Following the reports, the American Civil Liberties Union and others had charged the policy was unconstitutional in that it lacked due process and could be used to chill free speech. The group threatened to sue, and U-M set to work revising the policy in December 2010.

Now, old cases will be reviewed by DPS.

U-M announced that it will cut the length of time its police force can bar individuals from the public campus from life to one year, effective today. But the university’s police chief will have the option to renew each ban indefinitely after one year.

The battle over the campus bans policy may not be over yet.

The ACLU promptly questioned whether the changes were enough. The revised policy still lacks due process and may be used to chill free speech since bans will still be lifted or modified at the discretion of the school's police chief alone, Michael Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan, told June 1.

While the new policy will limit the duration of the ban, it expands the territory from which individuals can be barred at the discretion of a single officer from the Department of Public Safety. Under the changes, officers can issue a ban from campuses in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint, which hadn’t been an option previously.

Steinberg worried the change could be used to deprive individuals of their right to speak at public meetings that occur on all three campuses.

Other changes to the policy announced in June include a review by a supervisor of trespass warnings issued at the end of each officer’s shift. The supervisor may recommend the warning be lifted or modified at that time. Appeals must be heard within 30 days of the request. Several individuals banned from campus told they could not get a meeting with the director of public safety to address the ban under the old policy in a timely fashion. The policy kept them from attending work, school or sporting events.

The revised policy also requires the university to specify in writing the reason for the ban, something it did not do under the old rules.

Juliana Keeping covers general assignment and health and the environment for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter


Berda Green

Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 2:25 a.m.

good to hear keep up the great work ladies and gents


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 7:24 p.m.

The practice as I've observed it is often very arbitrarily applied. Also, since the UM campuses, especially Ann Arbor, cover a lot of town, it effectively creates islands (at least peninsulas) of non-banned private property surrounded by banned property. That means that even larger zones are limited than the UM-DPS has jurisdiction over. As practiced, the current practice impacts freedom of commerce and access, over and above the free-speech issues.

Joe Kidd

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 5:21 p.m.

Upon reading this, I conclude it makes no sense and very little change which is appropriate since nothing wrong has been occurring. If the ACLU does not like the law, they should be appealing to the legislature. The law as it exists allows for plenty off due process. Mr. Steinberg is not clear on his reasoning: "Steinberg worried the change could be used to deprive individuals of their right to speak at public meetings that occur on all three campuses." Meaning what exactly? Is he proposing that at a public meeting people should be allowed to participate just because they want to? Or disrupt? Disruption not only impinges on a speaker, but on the people who attend. There is no right for people to speak at public meetings. That is up to the folks who hold the meeting. This law has nothing to do with speech. I have been amazed at the attention paid to this issue. It is a state law, of minor status. It focuses on whether or not a person has the authority to be in an area they are occupying. Such authority can be granted or taken away based on circumstances. The bottom line is you cannot decided by yourself that you are allowed to be in a place of your choosing and behave however you want thinking the First Amendment protects you. The ACLU needs to be careful with this. A court could just as easily strengthen the law than weaken it.


Sat, Jul 2, 2011 : 8:53 p.m.

First, there are two trespass laws, one written in 1931 and another written in 1970 specifically for Universities, which was lobbied for by UM when AA police would not arrest BAM strikers. The 1970 law says that you must be breaking a properly promulgated rule of the University in order to be trespassing. Thus, there are no lifetime bans. Second, the public meeting referred to is the Regents meeting. Many of the "trespassers" have been specifically banned from the Fleming Building in order that they may not speak at the Regents meeting. The reason the University decided that people could be banned from all campuses is because one "trespasser" went to the Regents meeting in Dearborn last year an spoke about her trespass ban.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 4:13 p.m.

Oh my criminals are also supposedly banned! Goody feel safer already, don't you? Now how are they going to fill out their sports teams???

Basic Bob

Sun, Jul 3, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

If criiminals are banned, how will they fill the stands?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 4:01 p.m.

These U-M "police" style tactics are deplorable. It is shocking to me that this has been going on for so long in such a small community, and nobody ever did a thing. should be commended for its hard nosed reporting and bringing this issue into the public's view. Furthermore these changes are not enough I hope that the ACLU and continue probing this public institutions wrong doings. First it is a shameful trespass policy, then a smoking ban, what rights will this institution encroach on next?


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

I wonder what the process is to have an old cases reviewed? My teen-aged son was banned from Univ. of Mich. property for practicing soccer on some athletic fields, and it would be a relief if the Trespass Ban was lifted and he could go on University property again, since it covers so much of his hometown. (What I find frustrating is that he decided to go to the UMich fields to train after he was repeatedly denied access to the Pioneer fields, which are not available for use by athletes, even varsity players. Why can't a Pioneer high school soccer player train on the Pioneer soccer fields? The TRACK and TENNIS FIELDS are open to the public?)

Joe Kidd

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

I would agree that your situation sounds a bit extreme. But I wonder which fields he was on. I highly doubt an officer would address your child if he were on Elbel or Mitchell Field. But if he was on the varsity fields maintained by the athletic dept, those fields are not open to the public for recreational use. In re to Pioneer: My Dad was the superintendent at my school. I played basketball. My Dad did not allow anyone, even me, to practice in the school gym. The reason was injuries when no monitor was present. I would presume that is Pioneer's stance to, or what turf damage could occur if the fields were open for personal use. For whatever reason, the organization that owns and pays to maintain properties like these have every right to control who uses them, when and how. Did you appeal to UM? The officer is supposed to tell people issued the warning they can appeal. Don't be dissuaded by comments posted here. But if your son was on Athletic dept fields, that ban will likely stand.


Fri, Jul 1, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

"The ACLU promptly questioned whether the changes were enough." I agree. The only reason the U-M administration made any changes at all was to avert a potentially costly and embarassing federal court challenge by the ACLU that U-M was likely to lose badly. By making changes on the most egregious constitutional violations possibly averted a federal court suit by the ACLU and decreased the risk of losing such a suit. I believe there are still deficiencies in the newfangled procedures that the ACLU has skillfully pointed out. Michael Steinberg and the ACLU should be applauded for their efforts in creating these changes and continuing applying the pressure against the administration. I would like to see the ACLU to try enforcement in federal court of its remaining challenges if the administration does not make necessary changes.