Risa Goluboff Leads Response to Charlottesville Protests

Working Group Report Recommends Changes (UVA Lawyer)
Risa Goluboff

Dean Risa Goluboff is chairing a University of Virginia working group to lead the University’s response to the violent events of Aug. 11-12 in Charlottesville.

November 3, 2017

Dean Risa Goluboff is chairing a University of Virginia working group of deans and other UVA community members to lead the University’s response to the violent events of Aug. 11-12 in Charlottesville.

“I believe the working group’s recommendations will help our community recover and heal,” University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan said in her announcement of Goluboff’s appointment. “I am grateful for Dean Goluboff’s willingness to lead this effort, and to every member of the UVA community for standing together in unity and resolve in this critical time.”

Goluboff welcomed the opportunity to lead.

“As a member of this community, and also a civil rights historian and legal scholar, I can think of no more important task at this moment,” Goluboff wrote to the University community. “We must recover from violence, from bigotry, from vulnerability. We must heal. We must also act. Our tasks ahead are short-term and long-term; they are about physical safety and emotional well-being; they are as practical as revising policies and as lofty as advancing human progress; and they will require us to examine what we need to do within our own community and ask what we can do beyond it.”

Among the University response efforts so far are reviewing state laws and University policies governing weapons on Grounds; increasing UVA Police patrols on and near Grounds; and hiring Margolis Healy & Associates, a highly respected higher education safety and security consulting firm, to conduct a comprehensive review of UVA’s infrastructure, policies and tools.

For a full account of the group’s efforts and goals, see www.response.virginia.edu.

Working Group Report Recommends Changes

On Sept. 11, the working group released a report analyzing the University’s response to the events of Aug. 11 and recommending policy changes for the future.

Goluboff presented the group’s recommendations to the Board of Visitors on Sept. 15, after which board members unanimously passed three resolutions.

“University officials’ frame of mind was shaped by a decades-long history of nonviolent protests on Grounds that led them to approach the march with the assumption that it was constitutionally protected and should be accommodated with minimal police intrusion,” the report said.

“On a number of levels — intelligence evaluation, policy backdrop and police response — this mindset led the University to make judgments that were misaligned to the context and left [the University Police Department] insufficiently equipped to respond.”

The group recommended declaring the Academical Village a facility — a resolution the board passed — and exploring similar classifications for other spaces across Grounds.

Members of the public cannot possess, store or use weapons in areas of the school designated as facilities under current policy. University community members are already not allowed to possess, store or use weapons on Grounds.

The working group also said the school should strengthen and more strictly enforce the University’s “Open Burn and Open Flame” policy, a step the board also approved.

Open flames are not allowed on University property unless that use has been approved by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety or the University of Virginia Medical Center Fire Protection Inspector’s Office, and is conducted in accordance with the Virginia state, county and city codes and regulations.

The protesters did not receive such permission, but there was no notification procedure in place to inform University police when open flames were or were not approved. The University Police Department also was not aware that it might have authority to enforce section 18.2-423.01 of the Virginia Code, which states “any person who, with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons, burns an object on a highway or other public place in a manner having a direct tendency to place another person in reasonable fear or apprehension of death or bodily injury is guilty of a Class 6 felony.”

Though UVA traditionally has not required permits for protests or demonstrations, the group said the University should consider whether “to adopt time, place, and manner regulations to govern First Amendment activities on University common spaces consistent with the University’s commitment to a pluralistic, open community.”

The full report, along with a police timeline also released Sept. 11, is available at response.virginia.edu.

In the final resolution the board approved, plaques memorializing students and alumni who served in the Confederacy will be moved from the Rotunda.

Goluboff’s scholarly expertise lines up well with her new role. She has written two books recognized as significant contributions to civil rights and legal history, “The Lost Promise of Civil Rights” (2007) and “Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change and the Making of the 1960s” (2016).

UVA Lawyer

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