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The Verdict is in for Hampton Students...

Posted By: on December 02, 2005

Hampton University student activists punished
12/03/2005


Several Hampton University students who handed out fliers criticizing the Iraq war and the federal response to **** Katrina were ordered to complete community service after appearing Friday before a campus disciplinary panel.

Seven students were charged with a minor procedural violation for posting unauthorized handbills and failing to register a protest with the school, the university said in a statement late Friday.

The statement said no students were expelled. University spokeswoman Yuri Rodgers Milligan said she could not comment on actions taken against individual students.

Student Aaron Ray said he and five other students received letters Friday evening informing them they would be required to complete 20 hours of community service as punishment. The seventh student had not received a letter, Ray said.

"The community service is reasonable, but what we had to go through to get to this point was not reasonable," said Ray, 19, of Columbia, Md.

Ray said the students earlier had received letters informing them that they could be expelled after they distributed fliers Nov. 2 as part of a nationwide student walkout sponsored by the group World Can't Wait, which wants President Bush removed from office.

"We don't see that we won't be expelled as any kind of victory here," Ray said. "After this, changes still need to be made here. There's no real rights for us students here."

Punishments listed in the student handbook include a warning, suspension and expulsion, said Rebecca K. Glenberg, an American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia lawyer who attended Friday's hearings to advise the students.



The hearings were closed and an Associated Press reporter was barred from the private school's campus.

In the statement, the university said it permits peaceful protest but that students must comply with school policies and procedures.

"No students were disciplined for their beliefs," the statement said.

As the hearings took place, about 20 community activists and other Hampton students stood outside the campus entrance, holding signs demanding "Justice for the HU 7" and wearing masking tape inscribed with the words "Free Speech" across their mouths.

"They were singled out partially for their views," said protest organizer Tom Palumbo of the Virginia Anti-War Network. "Hampton University is known for having a conservative bent. At the same time, universities are supposed to be the birthplace of free speech and new ideas."

About 20 students, many associated with Amnesty International, took part in the Nov. 2 walkout. The students stood at the historically black university's student center and handed out leaflets about issues including ****, homophobia and **** in ****, as well as the Iraq war and Katrina.

Campus police shut down the event and seized the ID cards of several students, according to students.

The **** of Virginia also sent a letter to university officials Thursday asking them to refrain from punishing the students and to revise rules to expand student free-speech rights.

Only recognized student groups qualify for permission to hand out leaflets, and Hampton University has refused to recognize an Amnesty International chapter, the **** said.

"We're just very concerned with the protection of free speech in all arenas, and particularly in universities, where the free exchange of ideas is so important," said Glenberg, **** of Virginia's legal director.
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Cidra Sebastien
Hampton University class of 2001
This is an issue that has pissed off many alumni of HIU including me. Last week, I forwarded a series of emails asking people to show their support to these students by calling and writing the University. Fortunately, none of the students were expelled - 4 of the 7 students have to do community service (though I would agree their actions on November 2 were community service). With all the goods going on at HIU these days, it hurts to hear about students' right to question, learn and grow is being shut down. I applaud alumni who allowed theri voices to be heard and other people who gave support to the students at my Home by the Sea.

Stay connected!
Cidra, HU 2001
Saturday, December 3rd 2005 at 7:37PM
Tahir A. Davis
Hampton University class of 1998
Community Service! Come on! They were in violation of school regulations. Whether they knew it or not! They should be grateful that they were allowed to stay at our home by the sea! I believe in free speech and HU has never stoped people from exercising their 1st amendment rights. But just as in the real world, people need to organize and register to do so and be recognized by governing authority. This is clear cut and the university was very lenient.
Sunday, December 4th 2005 at 3:13AM
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