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ASUA senator introduces student bill of rights

Headline Photo

By Maya Schechter

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Students, faculty and state lawmakers collaborate for Bill of Rights

Through a collaboration of Arizona lawmakers and UA students and faculty, the University of Arizona may see its first Student Bill of Rights and Responsibility.

The idea for the bill came from an Associated Students senator, Roby Schapira, when he ran for office last spring. After former Arizona Representative Jean McGrath's attempt to eliminate same-sex dorms in the state universities last year, Schapira said he wanted to see if students could be protected from such bills being passed.

"I want this to be something all students are familiar with and turn to when they are in trouble," Schapira said.

Schapira presented a draft to the senators at their weekly meeting Wednesday night and received feedback for him to revise the draft.

Examples of the rights include "Students have a right to respectful treatment by the faculty and staff," and "Students shall be protected from the disclosure of any personal information, including academic or disciplinary records, without written authorization."

The one right that Schapira said he suspects will cause controversy, within the UA administration and at the state level, reads that residence hall rooms and possessions of all students should be respected, and searches and seizures should be made only with the proper judicial warrant.

"This will probably stir some controversy because it is the only one that would directly violate a policy that RHA and administration have already set for the residence halls," Schapira said.

Sen. Kristel Miller, an RA at Coronado Residence Hall, suggested that Schapira double check with the residence hall association and find out the exact rules of police entering dorm rooms.

Schapira said he was, in fact, planning on conducting further research of residence hall and university police policies.

In order to give students their own rights, it would only be fair to also give them certain responsibilities, Schapira added.

These responsibilities include "Students shall be actively involved in their educational process... both in effort and in attendance," and "Students are expected to take responsibility for knowing and meeting the requirements of their degrees... and for using the advising system."

He will next show a draft to the UA Parents Association, Alumni Association, administration and the Tucson City Council, with the hope of approval from each.

Schapira would also like the Arizona House of Representatives to approve the bill and apply it to all three state universities.

"It will be a usable document, just like the code of conduct, so students will know what they can expect and what is expected of them," he said.

Schapira said he hopes to complete the project, with its full approval, by May, because it would be easier to accomplish with his title of senator.

"Of course I will still work on it if needed next year, but I really hope this goes into effect by the fall," he said.

The Bill of Rights and Responsibility would be given to students during their summer orientation, Schapira said.

Before beginning the draft, Schapira said he contacted other colleges to get some ideas. He received a copy of Texas Tech University's bill of rights and used it to help him write one for the UA.

He also said he hopes to pass the idea on to other schools in the Pacific 10 Conference and any other interested colleges.