Campus News

April 26, 2011

Protesters arrested for trespass on Quadrangle

Seven persons, including four Emory students, were arrested Monday evening on trespass charges after they refused repeated requests to vacate a group of tents they had pitched on the University's main academic quadrangle as part of a protest against Sodexo, the University's food services vendor.

A cluster of nine tents and several tent canopies were erected by student protesters April 20, following their evacuation from inside the administration building where they had conducted a sit-in.  Long-standing university policy clearly prohibits the unauthorized use of the quad for such purposes.

Gary Hauk, vice president and secretary of the University, informed the students that the University's policy requires those who use the quadrangle to apply in advance for a permit. In this case, the protesters received no permit, other than for an afternoon rally on April 20, and did not apply for one for additional events or activities.

At about 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 25, protesters on the quadrangle were asked by Hauk and other Emory officials to clear the camping equipment and remove their belongings. Campus Services began packing and removing the tents over the period of about 90 minutes while protesters were asked repeatedly to vacate the tents. They were warned several times that they would be subject to arrest for trespass if they did not evacuate their tents.

Each of the seven persons who remained in the last tent was given one last chance to leave and avoid arrest but they chose not to do so. In addition to the students from Emory, the group included two students from Georgia State University and one student from Georgia Tech.

The University's policy describes the quadrangle as "the symbolic heart of Emory University's academic life, the site of rich ceremonial traditions like Commencement and presidential inaugurations, and the place where the campus community gathers to mourn after events like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina."

The policy largely prohibits the use of amplified sound during class hours, requires a trash removal plan to be presented in advance, requires Campus Services to be consulted with regard to the placement of tables, chairs and tents required to house special events, and allows for the assessment of fees to restore the quad to its prior condition following an event – among many other stipulations and guidelines. (Click here for the full document.)

The quad is beginning to be readied by grounds crews for Commencement on May 9, an event that requires construction of a large temporary stage and the eventual placement of approximately 14,000 folding chairs for graduates, faculty, family and friends.

For more information on the underlying issues, which have been discussed over the past year in a series of meetings between the student protest leaders and senior Emory officials, including two with President Jim Wagner personally, click here.

To read the president's letter to the Emory community, click here.

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