Rutgers University

Protest or Problem? Rutgers Revises Its “Disruption” Policy

Seats and a velvet rope served as a makeshift barrier between the audience and the Rutgers University Board of Governors during its meeting this month in Winants Hall.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Rutgers University has shored up policy language so that community members and administrators alike may better understand the line between a protest and disruption.

The Board of Governors approved two resolutions earlier this month defining what, exactly, constitutes a disturbance that violates Rutgers policy. Among other things, the revisions lay out a list of actions—from obstructing traffic and damaging property to disrupting university business—that infringe upon the rights of others.

The move follows a wave of dissent that has rolled through Rutgers’ campuses and the City of New Brunswick in recent months. Since Donald Trump began his ascent to the presidency, thousands of people have made the university a hotbed of rebellion.

Sign Up for E-News

“It was necessary to revise university policy,” Richard Roper, a member of the Board of Governors, said during its most recent meeting, “in order to more clearly define the criteria of a disruption so the university community can easily identify when conduct will be considered to intentionally or recklessly interfere with the university’s operations or infringe upon the rights of other members of the community.”

Rutgers policy used to define a disruption as anything that interfered with people’s rights to go about their business or university activities.

Now, the code of conduct points to incidents in which people obstruct traffic, block entrances or exits to buildings or driveways, interfere with educational activities, harass passersby, preclude a scheduled speaker from being heard, disturb scheduled ceremonies or events, damage property or “engage in any other activities that disrupt university business or infringe upon the rights of others.”

The takeaway? If your demonstration negatively affects someone else, it’s possible you’re in violation of Rutgers policy.

The policy used to include a formal warning that university administrators were supposed to provide verbatim to violators. It suggested administrators give them a time by when the disruption must cease.

The new policy states that administrators, if possible, must simply tell people that they are in violation of the disruption policy.

Rutgers used to advise staffers that they had a “twofold responsibility” to help restore order and protect against injury. Instead, the new policy says certain administrators may be called on to help end the disruption.

At the same time, the policy cements Rutgers’ belief in freedom of expression and its importance in the academic community. Rather than clamp down on dissent, the policy appears designed to foster political speech in a manner that doesn’t impact others.

The revisions come on the heels of a major protest on Jan. 31 during which more than 1,000 anti-Trump demonstrators assembled outside Brower Commons on College Avenue and marched through New Brunswick, temporarily shutting down streets to vehicular traffic.

Prior to that, a dozen or so students in December effectively ended a Board of Governors meeting in Winants Hall in an effort to push Rutgers to declare itself a “sanctuary campus” for undocumented immigrants. Protesters chanted and staged a sit-in as the board hurriedly approved the consent agenda and exited the room. During this month’s meeting, a line of chairs and a red velour rope separated the audience and the board in Winants Hall.

Karen Smith, a Rutgers spokesperson, declined to say whether revisions to the school’s disruption policy was due to the December sit-in or any other event. She also didn’t say whether the new policy would prohibit the January protest, which shut down traffic, an action that Rutgers prohibits on or off campus.

“We were reviewing our policies, which we do periodically, and we felt we needed to sharpen and clarify the definition of disruption,” Smith told TAPinto New Brunswick.

Under Rutgers policy, administrators may call police to contain such disruptions.

People found in violation of the policy may face any number of disciplinary actions. That could range from a warning or reprimand to probation or expulsion, according to the university’s code of conduct. They might also be required to perform community service or complete an assignment.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - September 25, 2017

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - We all love our government workers, who deserve to be comfortable in retirement. It's just this nagging problem of the state having the worst finances of any in the nation. And it is why we actually agree (gulp) with Gov. Chris Christie in his effort to limit the six-figure payouts to retirees for unused sick and vacation time.

Upcoming Events

Sat, September 30, 11:00 AM

East Brunswick Elks, East Brunswick

ParaX Paranormal Expo

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_76d8e2dc134d3d1dc5ee_tracy_morgan_press_photo__10.8.15__credit_paul_mobley

Sat, September 30, 8:00 PM

New Brunswick

Tracy Morgan

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, October 1, 1:00 PM

Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, New Brunswick

Art Together

Arts & Entertainment

Mental Health Town Hall at RU Bridges a Gap

September 24, 2017

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The Rutgers student government held its first annual “ Mental Health Town Hall” in an effort to bridge the gap between students and the health and wellness services available to them.

The Sept. 21 panel featured five members of the Rutgers mental health community; an organizer from the student-volunteer crisis hotline and two staff from the on-campus counseling ...

Rutgers Football hit with NCAA sanctions, escapes harsher penalties

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - As the Rutgers football team prepares for its game today against the University of Nebraska, the talk among the faithful is a two-year probation period for the struggling program.

The NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions panel ruled the university failed to monitor its football program, the NCAA announced Friday afternoon.

The penalties fell short of ...

What's New at Rutgers This Year? For Starters, College Avenue

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — If you've recently walked College Avenue, you know just how different it looks.

But Rutgers University's upgrades didn't end there. In fact, from a renovated football practice complex to revamped food options, quite a bit has changed on the banks since the spring semester finished.

“This past year has been especially rewarding because we've ...

Get Ready for Sunday's Annual Rubber Duck Race

September 22, 2017

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The 2017 Raritan River Festival and Rubber Duck Race is coming to town this Sunday, Sept. 24, noon to 6 p.m. at Boyd Park, on the riverside of Route 18 and Commercial Avenue in New Brunswick.

Admission is free and parking is available at the Rutgers University Public Safety Parking Deck.

Now in its 38th year, the festival first came to light in 1980, in celebration ...

State Infant/Child Car Seat Rules Currently in Effect

September 13, 2017

TRENTON, NJ - Effective September 1, 2015, legislation set in place revised parameters relative to the use of infant / child car seats in the Garden State. New Jersey guidelines currently mandate the following:

Newborn to Age 2

Children under age 2 and under 30 lbs. must be in a rear-facing car seat with a five-point harness. Toddlers who are tall or have long legs ...

OPINION

A Call to Action on Healthcare

September 24, 2017

Dear TAPInto New Brunswick,

On July 29, 2016, one week after my 41st birthday, with no warning, I experienced a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. SCAD is an uncommon heart condition that causes arteries in the heart to tear, leading to a blockage of the artery, and, in my case, a heart attack.  I HAVE NO KNOWN RISK FACTORS FOR HEART DISEASE.  

I am a mother of two young ...

LD17 Assembly Candidate Robert Quinn initial platform proposals

September 12, 2017

                “What are you offering me?”

                It is a phrase occasionally heard on the campaign trail, albeit sometimes articulated in a less blunt fashion. Still, while it is direct, it is an important question to be answered ...