Eleven UC Berkeley student candidates from the campus Defend Affirmative Action Party filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the ASUC and the UC Board of Regents, alleging violations of freedom of speech, free association and equal protection.
The party alleges that members of the ASUC Elections Council banned DAAP as a political affiliation and that this constitutes a “unique and discriminatory restriction.” The lawsuit further alleges that the ASUC Elections Council and Judicial Council took “protracted and evasive measures in order to exclude the Defend Affirmative Action Party from the ballot.”
On March 13, the Elections Council reclassified all candidates from DAAP filing for candidacy in the 2016 ASUC elections as independent candidates because of the party’s failure to file an online endorsement form and party filing fee.
“We feel this is an attack on the political rights of the students on campus,” said Hoku Jeffrey, an organizer with BAMN, a national activist group affiliated with DAAP. “We’re going to fight it because it’s completely unacceptable. Student government should be where the broadest freedoms are allowed for the purpose of having a fair and democratic process.”
In addition, the plaintiffs allege retaliation by the university under the federal Title IX law for their campaign to publicly name alleged rapists and demand that they be held accountable at UC Berkeley.
Jeffrey participated in a BAMN-organized protest Thursday morning in one such campaign against Omar Pedroza, a student who allegedly sexually assaulted another student, Stephanie Nicole Garcia, who is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also names ASUC President Yordanos Dejen, members of ASUC judicial council, UC President Janet Napolitano and UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks as defendants.
The 11 DAAP candidates seek a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction ordering the allowance of the plaintiffs to run as members of DAAP in ASUC elections, and postpone the ASUC elections scheduled for April 4, 5 and 6 until the alleged violations of the plaintiffs’ rights are corrected.
DAAP was founded in 1998 by BAMN, who has previously filed a lawsuit against UC Berkeley for alleged infringement against students’ freedom of speech during protests in 2011.
Senior staff writer Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks contributed to this report.