Protesters gathered outside Baruch College, one of 10 schools in the City University of New York system, to speak out about the right to protest, Gen. David Petraeus’ visiting professorship and the shutdown of a student and community center in Nov. 25.
The primary focus of the rally was to highlight and oppose a draft of a policy titled The City University of New York Policy on Expressive Conduct. The policy sets guidelines for those who wish to publicly demonstrate on CUNY campuses and outlines consequences for violations.
CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress, a union for faculty and staff, was one of the primary organizers of the protest. On Nov. 8, the PSC posted on its website that it had passed a resolution for the CUNY Board of Trustees to withdraw the draft from consideration.
Protesters said the Board of Trustees was supposed to hold a vote on the policy during its meeting, which began about an hour and a half into the protest. But protesters also said it was rescheduled as a result of pressure from dissatisfied groups.
However, CUNY spokesman Michael Arena said the vote was not on the Board’s agenda.
The protest, which began at 3 p.m., included a march and performances by a small musical ensemble. Members of various organizations and members of the community at large made call-and-response speeches and handed out flyers, which engaged a crowd of about 200. People affiliated with other CUNY schools were also present.
“We’re here to demand that draconian crackdown on student protest be withdrawn and stopped,” CUNY-Hunter College professor Sandor John said.
Another supporter, Joykilo Moran, a sophomore at Baruch College, gave an impromptu speech about the need for a more widespread student response to the policy.
“The Board of Trustees is planning to pass this [policy],” Moran said. “We have to start fighting it now. We can’t wait and then deal with it on their terms.”
Kelly Garcia, a junior at Baruch College, said she did not know what was going on outside of her school, but was supportive of the cause when she learned of the reasons for the protest.
“They’re basically trying to censor us,” Garcia said. “I heard that they were trying to do this, but I didn’t know that it was actually happening.”
In addition to opposition to the Policy on Expressive Conduct, the protesters also spoke out against the naming of Petraeus as visiting professor at CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College, the role of university security forces in allegedly violent suppression of dissenting voices and the shutdown of the Morales/Shakur Student and Community Center at CUNY’s City College of New York.
Arena never said whether the Board of Trustees was planning to vote on the policy discrepancy.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Nov. 26 print edition. Scott Mullen is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.