Salt Lake Community College hosted its first student civil liberties hearing on Aug. 28, giving the community the chance to voice concerns and feedback.
The public rule-making hearing took place at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus. The hearing had a clear agenda of how administrative rules affect student civil liberties across all SLCC campuses.
The Student Civil Liberties Protection Act and became law in May 2018. This new law requires colleges to identify policies that may have an impact on student civil liberties.
Before the hearing was set, SLCC faculty determined what would most affect the student body. The following administrative rules were set for review:
- R784-2 Free Expression on Campus
- R784-3 Weapons on Campus
- R784-4 Student Due Process
SLCC’s Dean of Students Ken Stonebrook, General Counsel Chris Lacombe, and Assistant Attorney General Steve Gordan opened the hearing with short briefings of each policy. Students received access to all policies that would be reviewed during the hearing.
“Based on their review of the policies posted, [students] didn’t have any issues with the policies. Most had questions with the language of the policies,” Stonebrook says. “I think what we realized is that we might be able to do a better job defining, for example, the preponderance of evidence. So, our students have a better idea of what it means or [how it] impacts them.”
After the briefings, the presenters opened the floor up to those in attendance for public comment.
“Students had questions around what free speech looks like in an academic classroom. What impact does academic freedom have on free speech overall?” Stonebrook says.
The above policies went through the public rule-making process from Aug. 1 to Sept. 3. The closure date for public comments was Sept 3.
“What we did at the public hearing was to make sure to remind individuals that if they didn’t want to make the comment publicly or after the hearing, they could do so by sending an email to our policy coordinator at the college,” Stonebrook says, who also encourages students who attended the meeting to share what they learned with other students.
The administrative policies will now move to the college’s executive cabinet. The cabinet will discuss the policies and take the comments into consideration before reaching an agreement or review. If all is agreed upon, the policies will be finalized.