Council on American-Islamic Relations criticizes
University of Michigan’s trespass policy
By: Lee Higgins
Posted: Mar 16, 2011 at 5:02 PM [Today]
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is joining the American Civil Liberties Union in its criticism of University of Michigan’s trespass policy that allows the school to ban juveniles and adults from campus property for life without charging them with a crime.
University officials recently proposed revisions to the policy after the ACLU challenged the constitutionality of it following a report last fall by AnnArbor.com highlighting several controversial cases of trespass warnings being issued.
Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR-Michigan, a civil rights organization for American Muslims, said one of the group’s members, Nazih Hassan of Ypsilanti, is on the list of about 2,000 people who have been banned from campus property since 2001. Walid is sharing his concerns about the policy with the ACLU.
“The University of Michigan’s criteria for individuals being banned has the appearance of being subjective and vague,” Walid said. “That individuals including alumni can be banned from a state-funded institution for merely voicing political views or criticizing the administration without directly disrupting the university’s learning environment or without being criminally charged is mind-boggling. We support the ACLU and other persons who have concerns about this vague policy that can lead to further infringement of Americans’ civil rights.”
Hassan is well-respected in the Ann Arbor area Muslim community and is a vocal activist, Walid said. Hassan was born in Lebanon and became a legal permanent resident of the United States in 2001. He is mentioned in the ACLU’s 2006 lawsuit challenging the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, in which CAIR was one of the plaintiffs. Hassan publicly criticized the program, arguing that it had a chilling effect on his free speech rights.
Records show Hassan was issued a trespass warning on Oct. 13, 2002 at the Diag, where University of Michigan police say hundreds of protesters had gathered to take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hassan got into a shoving match with someone, who also was issued a warning, police spokeswoman Diane Brown said. Hassan did not appeal the warning to the police chief, Brown said.
Court records do not indicate Hassan has ever been charged with a crime in Washtenaw County.
University officials have argued that the policy is necessary and an effective tool to keep people off campus who pose a threat to public safety. Hassan could not be reached for comment today.
As the university continues to review the policy, it is asking the public for input. For more information, go to http://www.vpcomm.umich.edu/pa/key/Trespass.html