Students, faculty and administrators will meet today in an open forum to discuss a new draft of the University's Racial Harassment Policy proposed in October by President Sheldon Hackney. The draft defines harassment more narrowly than the current policy, calling it speech using "fighting words" or behavior deliberately intended to harm a specific person. Some professors have praised the new proposal as a strong guarantee of the freedom of expression, while others, including many students, have criticized it as being too vague to protect students from harassment. Today's conference, which will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. in room 200 of College Hall, is intended as an open forum to air differing opinions on the policy. The conference was called by the Office of the President and co-sponsored by the University Council, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and the Undergraduate Assembly. Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Duchess Harris said last night that the UA, which passed a nearly unanimous resolution condemning the proposal, is attempting to mobilize student opposition to the proposal. "People currently attending the University do not feel that it's a safe environment," said Harris, a College senior. "This will do nothing but feed into that sentiment." City Planning Professor Anthony Tomazinis, one supporter of the new draft, said last night that the proposal would guarantee the freedom of speech necessary for a professor to lead a class effectively. "Is a professor free to use a term or explore a book, or does he need the permission of every student in the class?" he said. "It's life and death for a university professor, the item of freedom of thought." Hackney created the new draft as a response to a Michigan State Supreme Court decision which declared the University of Michigan's racial harassment policy unconstitutionally vague. The University's current policy is nearly identical to the Michigan policy.Comments powered by Disqus
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