In a struggle to find a medium between a "vague" racial harassment policy now in place and a "narrow" alternative proposed by President Sheldon Hackney, College junior Jeffrey Jacobson submitted his own racial harassment policy to Hackney yesterday. Jacobson, who is co-chairperson of the University Council's Safety and Security Committee, said yesterday that he got the idea for his own draft at Monday's forum to discuss the policy's revisions. "I went to the forum and I heard what the students were saying to President Hackney," Jacobson said. "He kept saying over and over again to put [their ideas] in a policy." At the forum, Hackney's proposed revisions to the policy were severely attacked for what critics claim is wording that would make it impossible for victims to prove that they have been racially harassed. Jacobson said his draft is a "hybrid" of the current policy, Hackney's proposal and "a little of my own ideas." "The idea is that the old policy is too vague," he said. "But the new [proposal] is way too narrow." Hackney released his preliminary revisions to the two-year-old policy in early October, following a nationwide trend on college campuses toward removing limits on free speech. He was responding to concern raised by University Council after last year's Michigan Supreme Court ruling that the University of Michigan's harassment poilicy -- which is almost identical to the University's current code -- was "unconstitutionally vague." In the place of a definition of harassment, Jacobson's policy sets up a series of three "tests" to determine whether speech or actions are harassing. If an incident fails two of the three tests, then it would be deemed harassing. The first test, called the "Speaker/Actor Identifiablity Test," states that the University should not allow people to disseminate offensive material anonymously. "To pass this test, offensive speech or actions must originate from an easily identifiable source," the proposal states. "A public speech or a signed document are examples of easily identifiable sources that meet the rigors of this test." The second test, dubbed the "Educational Mission Test," says that any speech that adds to the University's stated educational mission in its "broadest possible definition," should not automatically be considered harassing. The final test is called the "Informed Intent Test." This states that a person or group must be "aware of the negative response that his or her activities generate or have generated," in order for harassment to take place. Past Faculty Senate Chairperson Robert Davies, who evaluated the proposal for Jacobson, said yesterday he thinks the draft "has merit" and should be used as a reference for Hackney when he formulates a new policy. "I think this is certainly one that should be considered carefully when the final one is put together," Davies said. "He's put a lot of thought into it." Jacobson said he has submitted the proposal to the Almanac which has agreed to publish the document in its issue next week. Hackney could not be reached yesterday for comment on the proposed policy, but has solicited ideas from the entire University community throughout the process.Comments powered by Disqus
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