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Posted on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 2 p.m.

University of Michigan officials solicit public input on the campus trespass policy

By Juliana Keeping

A decade-old trespass policy is under review, University of Michigan officials say.

Suellyn Scarnecchia, vice president and general counsel, said at a press briefing Friday that concerns from faculty sparked a review of the trespass policy, as did complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union over the policy’s use to ban former assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell in September.

Now, U-M officials are seeking the public's input in the revision process. The school has created a website aimed at shedding light on potential changes to campus bans.

Friday, Scarnecchia stopped short of saying the school has abused the policy used since 2000 to ban for life 2,050 individuals from portions of or the entire campus.

Shirvell, Scarnecchia said, was not banned over the content of his message, which included decrying the openly gay student body president for months on a blog and in person for a so-called “radical homosexual agenda.” Rather, he was banned for a “pattern of behavior,” she said. A ban remains in place aimed to keep Shirvell away from the student.

The Washtenaw County prosecutor’s office disagreed. Shirvell was never charged with stalking after campus detectives submitted their investigation for approval. But he was fired from his public position for waging his campaign against the student on company time. The ACLU of Michigan and the student chapter of the group weighed in on the issue following an Oct. 24, 2010, report on that detailed the use of the policy Shirvell’s banishment, as well as a faculty member and student who had complained to supervisors shortly before they were banned.

Scarnecchia said the trespass policy has been used to keep criminals who steal from students and even staff who have threatened gun violence to peers from campus. She pointed out violent incidents in recent years, such as the shooting deaths at Virginia Tech.

Stories gathered by show a wide application of the lifelong banishments. Among them, a lifelong ban issued to an Indiana doctor and Michigan alumnus who said he was banned from campus after he got into a shouting match at a Michigan football game.

Echoing concerns from the ACLU of Michigan and a student chapter of the civil liberties group, Scarnecchia said lifelong bans and an appeals process that lacks a timeline for an appeal are major problems. Freedom of speech and expression are vital to campus, she said. March 4, the ACLU wrote to Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and provided its own analysis of how the policy could be revised.


Michigan officials are considering implementing a time frame to trespass bans instead of letting them continue indefinitely.

Revisions Michigan officials are considering mean appeals to trespass warnings would be scheduled within a month and decisions issued within 10 days. Michigan officials are considering implementing a time frame to the bans instead of letting them continue indefinitely. Under the current policy, only the chief of police can appeal a “trespass warning.” Those who violate the trepass policy could be arrested or fined.

It’s not yet clear if a new policy would apply retroactively to a long list of banished individuals, Scarnecchia said.

Meetings with at community, faculty and student groups, as wells public safety departments at U-M’s Flint and Dearborn campuses are planned in upcoming weeks to create the best possible policy, she said. The hope is a new policy will be in place by May. Now, each campus has its own policy.

The university is soliciting comments from the public on the best way to revise the policy at, U-M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said.

Juliana Keeping is a health and environment reporter for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter



Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 5:24 a.m.

@trespass, Not surprising... like the old saw - "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Don't you know that the UM is the center of the universe, and everything else revolves around it?!


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 4:06 a.m.

With each passing year, UM more closely resembles the fascistic corporations, whose gaping maws it feeds. It should surprise no one that it employs totalitarian methods to enforce its will. I wonder if they try to whack whistle-blowers who might air their dirty laundry? Nah... probably just offer to buy their silence with tenure, instead.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 4:26 a.m.

As a whistleblower who has been whacked, I assure you no one tried to buy my silence with tenure. They just had an assistant General Counsel threatened me with declaring me "dangerous, a trespass warning, and arrest.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 3:09 a.m.

When the UofM puts its property on the public tax rolls then it can start citing trespassing. Until then, they shouldn't be allowed to banish anyone from public's property. Also, isn't the UofM insular enough? Should this be further encouraged by a policy that allows them to widen and deepen the moat around them?


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 2:58 a.m.

According to DPS officer, Ken Magee is no loner their director on sick leave, he is not the director any more. Does he still draw a pay check (a lot of tax money)?????


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 3 a.m.

Does he still draw a pay check from UM (a lot of tax money)????? We have no intestest


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

At least, the female researcher should not be banned because her ex-boss likes or dislikes her so much.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 1:17 a.m.

"Meetings with at community, faculty and student groups, as wells public safety departments at U-M's Flint and Dearborn campuses are planned in upcoming weeks to create the best possible policy, she said" Excellent! As much as I am annoyed at the DPS for unsolved mysteries... this time I won't complain. The ability to listen to others (even if they disagree) is most appreciated. The ability to listen to the public and seek their opinions (both pro/con) on this topic are a step in the right direction. Well done!


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 2:31 a.m.

Agreed this is a good start!


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 2:16 a.m.

It is a step in the right direction. The bad publicity from the Borisov case now being pressed by attorney Debbie Gordon and the Shirvell case I believe have underscored a bad policy and Mary Sue Coleman has recognized this.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 12:58 a.m.

This is one of the most overblown discussions I have ever read. There is no conspiracies here by the UMPD. There is no lifetime ban, though there is no problem with that. Shirvell was not charged because his antics did not support a stalking charge. There is no such thing as a "political offense." The trespass law does not keep criminals off campus. It certainly does nothing to prevent violent behavior as occurred at Va Tech (The General Council's office should never comment on the criminal law, they always get it wrong). There is no abuse of this statute on campus. Frankly if this is the worse thing anyone can complain about in re to UMPD that is good. The real problem with that agency is much higher up the ladder in re to ethics and integrity. I see little "reform" that can be done, other than tighten up the ability to make an appeal. Go ahead, let someone other than the PD chief handle the appeal. The fact is if a person gets his trespass chit repealed it will always be a citizen, not the police who will suffer when that person returns and misbehaves again.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 2:56 a.m.

" when that person returns and misbehaves again." I get it now when someone " misbehaves" they should be banned for life.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 1:12 a.m.

What? Did you read the article? Apparently the U of M thinks there is something wrong with the policy. These quotes are from Suellyn Scarnecchia, vice president and general counsel "the policy used since 2000 to ban for life 2,050 individuals from portions of or the entire campus." "he was banned for a "pattern of behavior," Not True? And in what capacity do you speak for the U of M now? Get back with us after reading the article!


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 12:35 a.m.

Well I guess I will try again. The gestapo is a work! It appears there are some that would be OK with the policies of certain countries prior to WW2. There were rights being denied then also. I am not arguing for specific individuals, but I do not believe that the university should have such broad unfettered power. This is not Dodge city where Wyatt Earp orders individuals out of town. This is the type of action that would have please former sheriff Doug Harvey. Strange that some that would normally be CLU supporters are apparently against a few peoples civil liberties. Conversely I find myself in agreement with the CLU which seldom happens. Which only goes to show "it depends who's bull is getting gored" as to your feelings.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 1:15 a.m.

This case is likely ripe for a federal court test on whether the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1871 was violated and whether damage claims are possible. Firstly, there is a strong case for liability due to the conduct of the U-M administration itself due to the fact they enunciated a policy that is alleged to be unconstitutional, not just a single officer, say, assaulting someone, so liabilty of a deep-pockets school is possible here. Secondly, under federal civil rights law, state law immunities cannot be asserted by U-M due to the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. I see possible violations of the First Amendment, Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, Equal Protection Clause.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 1 a.m.

If you are comparing what UMPD is doing with pre WW2 abuses, you need to go back to history class and pay attention this time. There are no rights being denied here. If you think so, state such with examples of the rights being violated.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 10:08 p.m.

The University uses trepass warnings instead of getting restraining orders because a restraining order requires going to court where the subject of the order gets to have his/her rights protected. If someone really needs protection, then get a restraining order but Armstrong dismissed his request for a restraining order and the UM gave him a trespass warning instead.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 1:06 a.m.

Wrong (again) trespass. Police do not get restraining orders. Judges apply them to suspects charged with crimes. PPOs are like restraining orders but are obtained by a citizen, not the U or the UMPD. Your post is inaccurate. The UMPD issuing a trespass warning to Shirvell has no bearing on his harassment of Armstrong. Shirvell could continue to stalk Armstrong as long as it was off campus or outside. I doubt what UMPD did had anything to do with Armstrong's decisions in re to his PPO.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 12:53 a.m.

Good point. Not did only he dismiss his PPO request, but he also told a police detective that he did not want the detective to impart that Shirvell's conduct was unwanted when the detective volunteered to do so. These were some of the points that the County Prosecutor's report pointed out when they elected not to press criminal charges for stalking.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 9:42 p.m.

Isn't the area of the University of Michigan considered public property? Just standing on a street, looking at a building should not be a political offense. I wonder if the University would like this case decided by the Supreme Court. As to the "saying or writing something bad about someone", well if these are the criteria to be banned from the UofM, then would they ban Micheal Moore? What about the Westborough Baptist Church? As I remember the case about affirmative action, which was decided by the Supreme Court, the University of Michigan lost. May I suggest the University lawyers read the US Constisution before they institute a new policy! Forget the idea about asking for "new initiatitives" from people with obtuse thoughts. Just follow the law!


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 12:56 a.m.

Exactly. It is no different than the Dearborn public parks "residents only restriction" that was eventually struck down due to the conduct of the ACLU in filing a court action. The judge in that case initially gave some leeway to the city, but once therewas evidence that only blacks were askedby police to produce ID to prove where they were from the whole thing was voided.

Stephen Landes

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 9:34 p.m.

Not to be too suspicious of the U of M, but what is to prevent them from keeping a list of people who comments in the negative about their policy and issuing the same trespass notice to them? The most egregious impact of the policy is the stifling of freedom of speech when the possible impact is a life-long battle with the University to reclaim one's rights and reputation. I suggest that all university police forces (not just U of M or on an exception basis) be under the supervision of the Michigan State Police, so that their processes, procedures, practices, and actions are actually controlled by a group that has wide-spread support and respect within our state.

Stephen Landes

Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 5:47 a.m.

Mick52 -- I agree with you if we could be sure that is how this penalty would always be applied. However, as this is currently constructed the U of M officer has total discretion and can define what constitutes a "disruption" as he feels appropriate that day. There is no appeal to any authority outside the U of M campus police. That is a prescription for abuse. In my opinion the number of people under trespass warning is a good sign that this penalty provision has been abused.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 1:21 a.m.

Good point, Stephen. Courts have recognized in Michigan that a person has a protectible interest in their own reputation. A U-M police officer should not be in a position to deprive a person of that without a meaningful hearing before a neutral civilian official. Washtenaw County Commissioner Yousef Rabhi is on the "Trespass List"; what if the list had been published before the election he won by two votes?


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 1:15 a.m.

There is no stifling of freedom of speech in the application of this law. Some people go to speeches and disrupt the speaker. There is no freedom of speech that protects that. In fact, the person would be arrested for disturbing the peace. A very recent Supreme Court ruling upheld that a city could apply a barrier, a distance beyond which protesters must stay. In that case, the organization that caused a ruckus at a soldier's funeral did observe that and stayed beyond the distance set in the town ordinance. So that ruling provided for a distance from a proceeding that protesters have to abide by. If any person were allowed to disrupt a speech and the police could not do anything, would that not be a freedom of speech violation of the person speaking and those listening if the govt had to protect the ability of the disruptive person?


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 10:05 p.m.

The U of M lobbied for a law in 1990 to allow all four year universities to have their own police departments. Until then the campus police were deputized by the Washtenaw County Sheriff and therefore their chain of command went through the sheriff. Now they report to President Coleman, which is how she likes it.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

Maybe it's just me, but I think that anyone who commits a crime on campus, or anywhere else for that matter, should be removed and not be allowed to come back. As soon as someone commits a crime, they are waiving any rights they have, and any rights they may have had should be void.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 1:29 a.m.

It is public property that is open to the public. If it was a private store, like Sears, I would be inclined to agree with you, Jeep. But people being banned are taxpayers who financially support the school and many are students or alumni which provide direct payment of tuition or other support U-M relies on. Plus many of the persons served with these notices have never been found guilty of any crime by a court of law.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 10:01 p.m.

Oh, and by the way smoking marijuana, even if you have a medical marijuana permit.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 10 p.m.

Crimes may include disorderly conduct (for example swearing in the presence of a police officer), parking violations and carrying a picket sign according to the campus police. Should those result in a lifetime banishment?


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

Shirvell should be banned and he should have been charged with stalking. He probably would have been if he wasn't one of the prosecutor's own. Why is it more difficult to prosecute those who abuse their authority than the ordinary citizen? Favoritism? Protecting their own? Good old boy network? If Shirvell was an ordinary citizen he probably would have been charged with stalking. I'm just saying.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

Shirvell handled criminal appeals for Mike Cox and likely there was some sentiment of "there, but for the grace of God goes I" among Brian Mackie's staff the report declining to cherge Shirvell was issued but it is a very defensible position given Armstrong's own conduct in failing to object or pressing his PPO proceeding.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King would probaably both be banned for life from U-M for the type of behavior they exhibited in resisting authority. One change that needs to be made is that a law enforcement official should not be sitting in a decision-making capacity on whether a person should be banned or the scope of the banishment. The Michigan Supreme Court barred this in its Crampton decision.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 2:11 a.m.

You are correct. A number of Michigan judges have been ex-FBI agents, such as Martin Doctoroff and William Lucas; they were regarded generally as fair. A lot of judges have worked in the prosecutor's office. However, the Michigan Supreme Court says a current LEO cannot sit in an adjudicative body - that case involved the Michigan Driver's License Appeal Board.


Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 1:18 a.m.

You might be surprised as to who, a LEO or a non LEO would be more restrictive. If someone else were making these decisions, it would be foolish to not get input from LE. Something like politicians making decisions about health care without consulting with Drs