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AZ Representatives weigh in on controversy as charges are dropped against UA students

TUCSON – In March, a video showing a student shouting at Border Patrol Agents who were invited to speak at the University of Arizona went viral. The student called the agents “murder patrol” and an “extension of the Ku Klux Klan.”

“It is not your place to hijack a university of higher education for a political agenda. You are there to learn not there to tell people what you think,” said Arizona Representative District 11 Mark Finchem.

Three students were charged with interference of an educational institution, but those were later dropped.

“Now that does not mean the students cannot be expelled, does not mean they will not face discipline in the academic world,” said Finchem.

News 4 Tucson contacted Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall but she declined to go on camera. However, her office sent us a statement that said:

“The prosecutorial decisions to file motions to dismiss without prejudice the charges filed by the University of Arizona Police Department in these three cases were decisions made by the County Attorney based upon a careful review of the facts and the law and the relevant circumstances in each case. However, the more specific factual and legal reasons for the decisions are confidential attorney work-product not subject to disclosure and not appropriate for discussion in the media.

Nonetheless, County Attorney LaWall is able to disclose that she has been informed by officials at the University of Arizona that its Dean of Students will conduct an administrative investigation, which will afford each of these three students due process, including the right to be represented by an attorney and the right to be heard at a hearing before an administrative fact-finder. The Pima County Attorney also has been informed by the University of Arizona that the victims also will have an opportunity to participate in the University’s administrative process, including at any hearing. The University has a range of available administrative consequences through which it might hold the students accountable if, following the administrative investigation and hearing, they are found to have committed code of conduct offenses.”

University of Arizona President, Dr. Robert Robbins sent out a letter about the incident last month that said,

Dear Campus Community,

“I want to update you on developments regarding last week’s incident with the Border Patrol officers on
campus and to reaffirm the University of Arizona’s relationship with the leadership and the women and men
serving in U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The incident between the protesting students and the Criminal Justice club members was a dramatic departure
from our expectations of respectful behavior and support for free speech on this campus.
University police determined today they will be charging two of the students with interference with the
peaceful conduct of an educational institution, a misdemeanor.
The UA Police Department will continue to investigate the incident for additional criminal violations, and the
Office of the Dean of Students is reviewing potential violations of the student code of conduct. There also will
be a probe into actions involving UA employees.

The University has policies and protocols for behavior and expression, and we are following those. However, I
have assigned university staff to examine our processes to ensure we are working effectively to help prevent
similar incidents in the future while maintaining the 1st Amendment right to free speech and protest.
At the core of these inquiries is the University of Arizona’s commitment to free speech. The student club and
the CBP officers invited by the students should have been able to hold their meeting without disruption.
Student protest is protected by our support for free speech, but disruption is not.
As a community of scholars, we need to be more thoughtful and deliberative in how we approach these issues
and work together to sustain vigorous conversations to find better solutions.”

Finchem said through this, President Robbins has created a teachable moment for students and staff.

“We live under the rule of law and the university is there to educate everyone. It is not there for people to hijack, for their own political agenda. Frankly, I think the students know there is a classroom Code Of Ethics, which I am big on. There are student code of ethics that they are responsible to live by. And that is an ordered society lives.”

 

HOI ABC Staff

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