by Jim Nintzel
An update on the great chalk crackdown of 2009: After a second chalk-wielding criminal was apprehended today by the UA Police Department, administration officials decided to back down on pressing criminal charges and will instead deal with them through the Dean of Students. We suppose that means that this outrageous infraction will go on their permanent record and they'll be under double-secret probation for the remainder of their college careers.
Wonder if this means that UA President Richard Shelton will have to have a beer with the students, who were using chalk to advertise a protest against higher tuition at the UA, and the police officers who brought in the dastardly vandals?
Whatevs. Clearly, some saner minds have prevailed at the UA, although we'd have to say the entire matter should have dropped by now. At least taxpayers won't be on the hook for any more court charges involving this idiotic waste of law-and-order resources.
Here's the UA statement:
The University of Arizona stands firmly committed to defending, celebrating and hosting free expression, a value that was tested last week when students rallied on campus to protest cuts to higher education funding.
The protest itself was part of the UA's tradition of robust freedom of expression, but advertising of that event in the form of chalk messages that appeared on surfaces other than the ground and sidewalks resulted in one student being cited for criminal damage for defacing the sides of structures.
On Monday morning, another student was cited for criminal damage for committing a similar act on campus. Both incidents required university funding and employee time to clean up.
Throughout, UA's interests have been twofold: ensuring students' ability to express themselves freely, and ensuring that university property was not damaged.
UAPD was doing its job citing students for illegal behavior, but upon review of the circumstances UA President Robert N. Shelton believes that the best course of action is to handle these incidents as possible Code of Conduct violations through the Dean of Students Office.
To that end, President Shelton has directed UAPD to avoid citing individuals for criminal damage for similar future incidents, and to refer students who appear to have committed similar acts to the Dean of Students Office. UAPD is in the process of dismissing charges against the two students who were cited, and those students have been referred to the Dean of Students Office.