Public University Charges Student Who Berated BP Agents Following JW Complaint
Days after Judicial Watch filed a complaint calling on the University of Arizona (UA) to discipline a disorderly student for berating and stalking Border Patrol agents on campus, the school’s president delivered some good news; UA’s police will charge two students and conduct an investigation to uncover more criminal violations. Additionally, UA’s Office of the Dean of Students will finally review potential violations of the Student Code of Conduct, which Judicial Watch outlined in its March 25, 2019 complaint to UA President Robert C. Robbins.
The episode occurred a few weeks ago when Border Patrol agents were invited to the Tucson campus for a career day event by the school’s Criminal Justice Association. The college group has also hosted officers from other federal law enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Forearms and Explosives (ATF).
During the Border Patrol agents’ presentation, a student named Denise Mureno-Melchor, disrupted class and yelled “Murder Patrol” and profanities in Spanish at the agents. In videos widely circulated online the Mexican-American studies major likens the Border Patrol agents to the notorious hate group Ku Klux Klan and targets the agents by repeatedly chanting “Murder Patrol.” In one of the videos the belligerent student follows the agents for nearly a minute as they walk down a hallway and outside the building to the parking garage. She shouts “Murder Patrol” throughout the segment. In another video, recorded on her cell phone, Mureno-Melchor proclaims that there are “murderers on campus” as the camera pans on the two Border Patrol agents. “We have the KKK and their supporters here at the U of A,” she says, referring to fellow students in the classroom. The indignant Latino student also directs profanity in Spanish at the agents who gracefully ignore her.
Robbins, who earns more than any other university president in Arizona history ($988,000 a year), initially protected the student who harassed and stalked the federal agents. He also seemed more concerned with comforting illegal immigrants on campus than confronting the wrongdoing. In the first statement addressing the ruckus, UA’s president assured that “the university will always protect students’ confidential information, including their immigration status.” Robbins goes on to write that “all members of our campus community should be able to engage with a variety of viewpoints and positions and express themselves as well. That requires we respect others’ right to speech and that they respect ours.”
Judicial Watch held Robbins’ feet to the fire, calling on him to do his job as president by enforcing the Student Code of Conduct. The complaint listed the specific policy that Mureno-Melchor’s behavior appeared to violate, Policy 5-308 of UA’s code of conduct, which clearly states the following: “The educational process is ideally conducted in an environment that encourages reasoned discourse, intellectual honesty, openness to constructive change, and respect for the rights of all individuals.” Judicial Watch’s complaint further points out that the same policy also defines code of conduct acts demonstrated by Mureno-Melchor. The acts include but are not limited to: endangering, fabrication, stalking, causing reasonable apprehension of harm or engaging in conduct or communications that a reasonable person would interpret as a serious expression of intent to harm, unauthorized presences, engaging in discriminatory activities, including harassment and the commission of any offense prohibited by state or federal law or local ordinance.
Under pressure, Robbins changed course days later. He apologized to the U.S. Border Patrol for the student’s atrocious behavior, sources inside the agency told Judicial Watch. Then he got the campus police to do its job. “The incident between the protesting students and the Criminal Justice club members was a dramatic departure from our expectations of respectful behavior and support for free speech on this campus,” Robbins writes in an a follow-up announcement posted on UA’s website. “University police determined today they will be charging two of the students with interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution, a misdemeanor.” The student club and the federal agents invited by the students should have been able to hold their meeting without disruption, Robbins writes. “Student protest is protected by our support for free speech, but disruption is not.”