Four Tulane Students Disciplined for Supporting Low Wage Workers in Protest

For Immediate Release

Tulane University Students
Contact: 

Brian A. Ford, (916)214-1218, krashee@gmail.com
Hunter Deely, (210)316-3595, jhdeely@gmail.com

Four Tulane Students Disciplined for Supporting Low Wage Workers in Protest

NEW ORLEANS - In a university environment that claims to encourage
the free exchange of ideas and opinions, four students were charged with
Code of Conduct violations, such as abusive or disorderly conduct,
after a peaceful worker led and organized walkout on April 23rd,
2010, which had the potential to jeopardize the academic standing of
the four and complicate graduation proceedings for three.

"There
is a high level of outrage among the faculty, students, workers, and
administrators regarding these charges", says Hunter Deely, sophomore
and one of the charged, "we have heard rumors that even the Office of
Student Affairs didn't want to charge us, but that they were directed to
by some high ranking administrator. Because administration has never
reacted this way to other student demonstrations, it very much seems
like there is someone in power that is trying to stifle the voice of our
workers and of the students who support them."

 For
their non-violent participation in solidarity with workers on Tulane
University's campus the four students received letters from the office
of student affairs charging them with intimidation or harassment,
abusive or disorderly conduct, interference with the freedom of
expression of others, interference with the educational process or other
University sponsored activities, and failure to comply with University
officials acting in the performance of their duties.  The
students sent a letter (available upon request) to the administration
prior to the hearing documenting procedural violations of the Code based
on the manner in which the University charged the students, rights of
theirs protected by the Code that had not been preserved, the suspicious
nature of the charges, and the directionality of the administration in
the case. The Office of Student Affairs has let students know that there
is no right to due process nor to the First Amendment on Tulane's
private campus.

Despite this division in the
administration and the lack of evidence, three of the four students
charged were convicted of failing to comply with the directions of
University officials.
  Vice President of
Student Affairs, Mike Hogg, said that as a private institution, the
University holds the right to tell anyone to leave campus should there
be cause for concern.  Two student organizers graduating on
May 16 have also been given a written statement saying, "should you
return to campus after this date and participate in any unauthorized
protests and/or rallies; you may be issued a restricted presence letter
from Tulane University Police Department or arrested for criminal
trespass." The sanctions issued to the three student organizers set a
questionable precedent for future organizing and speech on Tulane's
campus, particularly in support of workers' rights.

None
of the four students charged have any prior violations on their records,
and by all accounts are model students of Tulane University.  Two
of the students, Lauren P. Elliott and Hunter Deely, participate in a
student-run course at Tulane which is the subject of the cover-story for
the Tulanian graduation edition this spring.  Kevin Henry
Jr. is president of the African American Congress of Tulane.  Both
Henry and Ford both sit on Tulane's Honor Board.  Deely
and Elliott are in the Tulane Honors Program.  Henry,
Elliott, and Ford are all scheduled to graduate in good standing on May
15th.  Although many students participated in
the worker walk-out, these four students have spoken publicly against
Tulane's administration in either speeches or through the media over the
past three months. "All I know for sure is that someone in the
administration got real angry when the workers spoke and the students
stood behind them," says Lauren Elliott, Senior and one of the accused,
"and it sure seems like that person is using everything in their power
to intimidate students and workers from speaking again, going as far as
to provide Tulane police to have a constant presence outside the
cafeteria. I have to wonder, do we have any rights on Tulane's private
property?"

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