New University of Michigan trespass policy takes effect after 2,000 banned in a decade
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 AnnArbor.com reports detailing the policy's use.
Criminals were banned, as well as protesters, students, employees and alumni, an AnnArbor.com 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 AnnArbor.com 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 AnnArbor.com 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.