NYU Shows How To Stop Illegal Student Protests; Threat to Impose Discipline, Calls to Parents, End Illegal Occupations
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 13, 2018) – NYU has demonstrated a simple but very effective remedy to use when a small group of students occupies campus buildings or engages in other illegal tactics.
It simply threatened to impose the discipline already called for in its rules - including possible loss of housing and financial aid - and telephoned the parents of the students involved to make sure they understood the consequences - since many were paying for their children's education, and would suffer along with the students if the illegal occupation wasn't ended.
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"NYU has provided a simple and clear road map for other colleges being pressured by student protestors to follow, rather than caving it to their demands, including but not necessarily limited to removing its president or other key officials," says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
Here students, not even part of an official group, illegally occupied a building in support of demands that a student trustee be added to the powerful governing board, that the Board hold a meeting led by students, and that it reconsider its decision not to undertake divestment as a few students had called for.
The University's answer was to issue a statement that, while "we fully respect students' right to exercise free speech and to protest a university position . . . disrupting university operations is not the same thing as dissent, and it subjects students to disciplinary proceedings."
It's both strange and unfortunate that this simple policy is not more widely followed, since colleges are far from powerless to act when a small group of students, who in many cases may be seeking changes opposed by the vast majority of their colleagues, use illegal means to pressure colleges to accede to their so-called demands - demands which are growing even more outrageous as college surrender too them.
On too many campuses, a small group of inmates has taken over control of the institution.
Rather than making reasoned arguments, building coalitions, and using established procedures to promote changes desired by the majority, a few students have found that it's usually easier and more effective to occupy buildings, invade classrooms, and engage in vandalism and even violence.
It's high time that parents be advised and become involved, since in many cases they are paying for all or part of the student's education, and will have to shoulder some of the punishment if the students are required to leave the university, presumably to return to the family home, suggests Banzhaf.