Photo Gallery, University News

WEB UPDATE: Disciplinary hearing for 8 SDS members concludes

Decisions expected within a week

By
Monday, January 5, 2009

The University Disciplinary Council panel convened to arbitrate charges against eight students involved in a heated protest of the Corporation in October concluded a hearing early Wednesday afternoon after two days of meetings, according to Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services.

The panel will now deliberate and will notify the students of its decisions within five business days, Klawunn said.

The students, all members of the activist group Students for a Democratic Society, are facing charges related to the group’s attempt to disrupt the Oct. 18 meeting of the Corporation in University Hall. Several Brown staff, including two Department of Public Safety officers, sustained minor injuries in trying to block students from entering the building, the University has alleged.

The proceedings were closed, as University procedure dictates. Only the charged students, their advisers, witnesses, UDC members, judicial deans and Allen Ward, the senior associate dean for student life, were present, Klawunn said.

As of Wednesday evening, members of SDS had not responded to multiple calls and e-mail messages seeking comment on the hearing. The group has spent more than six hours per week since the hearings in meetings to prepare for the hearing, SDS member Carly Devlin ’09, one the students charged, said last week. “The organization has been really supportive and great,” she said.

At least 25 other members of the group wrote letters to the University claiming to have participated in the protest and asking to be subjected to discipline along with the eight students who were ultimately charged, SDS member Sophia Lambertsen ’11 said last week, but were denied that request. The group demonstrated en masse outside University Hall nearly two months ago to protest what it said was the Corporation’s undemocratic decision-making processes and lack of transparency.

The two-day hearing took longer than expected, Klawunn said. “You had eight respondents, and their advisers, and witnesses, so that takes a long time,” she said.

Once decisions are made on each case, students will most likely be notified by telephone and by mail, Klawunn said. The disciplinary council was expected to consider a range of punitive actions against the accused students, including suspension or expulsion.

The University has charged the students with causing the disruption of a Corporation meeting, “forcibly” entering a closed University building and having “caused University personnel to be injured” in the process, according to a letter sent to those students by Associate Dean of Student Life Terry Addison. Seven of the eight students are also being charged with failing to present identification upon request.

When the hearing began at 10 a.m. Tuesday, about 30 SDS members, other students and community members had gathered across Thayer Street from the Inn at Brown in Gregorian Quadrangle, where the hearing was held, to show support for the students. The group hung large banners and held signs reading “Solidarity,” “Stop silencing students” and “Student protest: a Brown tradition.”

Demonstrators maintained a presence outside Gregorian Quadrangle throughout the day Tuesday and again Wednesday.

“We’re just here to support the students inside,” said Beth Arruda, a Rhode Island resident and cousin of charged student Mike DaCruz ’09, who was among those who gathered Tuesday morning.

As SDS members offered tea and coffee to supporters huddled on the sidewalk, a group of DPS officers stood and chatted in front of the Inn’s main entrance. As the day went on, the students played music and handed out pamphlets about the case.

“We planned this to show…we are not okay with our peers being charged,” SDS member Olivia Ildefonso ’09 said Tuesday.

Photos by Min Wu / Herald

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*