A bill Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law on July 19 grants private universities the same state authority enjoyed by public schools to expel or punish trespassers.

The law was enacted as an emergency law, meaning it went into effect immediately.

“This bill recognizes that the higher education nonprofit sector has similar responsibilities and faces similar public safety challenges as its public counterparts,” Portantino wrote in the Senate. “This will help create safer college campuses by ensuring the ability to adequately enforce trespassing at these colleges and universities.”

Senate Bill 748, introduced by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-Burbank), clarifies that individuals who have been terminated and ordered to leave campus will be punished for trespassing with a fine of up to $500, by imprisonment in a county jail not more than 6 months, or both.

Public universities already have the legal authority to take such action under current law, while their private counterparts – defined as accredited non-public higher education institutions that award undergraduate or graduate degrees , or both – previously could only issue written warnings.

Proponents of the law said the intention of increasing the severity of penalties for trespassing is to deter undesirable people from harassing students or disrupting campus life.

The Chapman University campus in Orange, Calif., on Oct. 14, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The California College and University Police Chiefs Association and several private institutions — including California Baptist University, Sierra University, Chapman University and Stanford University — backed the law.

“This new law gives Chapman University the same ability to provide security on our campus as a public college or university,” Rick Gonzalez, head of public safety at the university, told The Epoch Times.

Charlotte McKinley, a 20-year-old senior at Biola University, a private school in La Mirada, California, said the law would be positive on her campus, helping students, especially female students, feel safe and secure. to concentrate on their studies.

“I think with this new [law]giving the power to provide real repercussions to intruders, could reduce the number of intruders on campus,” McKinley said.

Julianne Foster

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