"Whereas the President of the University of Michigan has acted inappropriately by singlehandedly suspending Jake Baker, be it resolved the Michigan Student Assembly urges the University to abide by the principle of innocent until proven guilty and to treat all parties in the Jake Baker case with fairness. Be it further resolved that MSA demands the administration protect the welfare of the woman named in Jake Baker's posting. Be it further resolved that MSA demands that the hearing involving this case be open and public."What follows is the text of an article appearing in the 2/8/95 Michigan Daily, "MSA condemns suspended student, 'U' in resolution", by Amy Klein, Daily Staff Reporter:
[MSA == Michigan Student Assembly]
[LSA == College of Literature, Science, and Arts]
[ITD == Information and Technology Division]
In a response to the University's suspension of LSA sophomore Jake Baker, the Michigan Student Assembly last night adopted a resolution condemning the actions of both the University and the student.Again, all people named in this article have email accounts accessible by "finger <first>.<last>@umich.edu" if you would like to discuss the subject with them personally.
After an emergency meeting of the MSA Students' Rights Commission, the assembly voted 18-4 with three abstentions to adopt the statement.
"This is a make-or-break issue for MSA. It's time we take a stand for student rights and explain that free speech may not always be best," said LSA Rep. Dante Stella.
Baker was suspended last Thursday for posting a story on the Internet that described the torture and sodomization of a woman. The story included the name of a female University student.
The University has scheduled a closed hearing tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the Fleming Administration Building to decide Baker's fate. The assembly demanded that the hearing be public and open.
MSA President Julie Neenan expressed disgust after reading a copy of the story, which was posted on the Internet.
"(Vice President for Student Affairs) Maureen Hartford let me read a part of what was posted on the Internet. I was absolutely appalled and disgusted after I read the first two pages. I had to stop reading. She warned me that it got progressively worse," Neenan said.
The assembly's response emphasized members' concern with President James J. Duderstadt's decision to suspend Baker without a hearing under the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities, the University's code of non-academic conduct.
"The University, after all its talk of code amendments, has just said that it's OK for them to unilaterally change their opinion," Stella said. "The actions of the University and the actions of the student are both disgusting."
LSA Rep. Jonathan Freeman agreed that Baker is entitled to a hearing before the code's panel.
"What was violated here was that the University set up a code and then they decide that they are going to amend it at will. That is the biggest danger here," Freeman said. "We're trying to make a statement that this guy was thrown out before he even got anything."
Vince Keenan, the chair of the Students' Rights Commission, agreed that the University should have followed the code.
"We were told we're safer under the code than in the old days when President Duderstadt could just kick anyone out. Yet, that's exactly what just happened here," Keenan said. "What (Baker) did was gross and reprehensible. What the administration did was worse."
Some representatives believe that the suspension was a hasty and harsh decision.
"This could have been dealt with by taking away the student's ITD account, or better yet it could have been handled under normal legal proceedings," said Student General Counsel Paul Scublinsky, an LSA junior.
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