Walkout protesters cause class disruptions

Protestors rallying Thursday against military action in Iraq incited debate in the University community when a number of participants decided to take their demonstration indoors, marching through the hallways of Cabell Hall.

Between 20 and 30 people broke from the protest on the Lawn and proceeded to walk the halls of Cabell while classes were in session, reportedly chanting and banging on doors, according to several students in class at the time.

Students walked out of classes as part of an event organized by the Anti-War Coalition, Citizens Against Global Exploitation and Food Not Bombs. They congregated on the South Lawn at 2 p.m. before proceeding along Main Street to the U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building downtown.

Organizers said an unnamed graduate student was responsible for the march through Cabell Hall.

"I'll just reaffirm that the Anti-War Coalition did not support or endorse the walk through Cabell," said third-year Engineering student Matt Kindig, co-founder of the Anti-War Coalition. "Those who walked through Cabell against the Anti-War Coalition's wishes were denying students who chose not to walk out the opportunity to receive their education unimpeded."

Math Prof. Pamela Richardson was teaching on the fourth floor of Cabell when the marchers came through.

"It was very disruptive for me," Richardson said. "My students had an exam that night, and we were trying to review."

Richardson said she closed the classroom door, but class was still disrupted by the protestors.

"There were a lot of students in the hall," she said. "The protest probably lasted about 10 minutes -- they were chanting things."

Richardson said she felt the protestors could have effectively conveyed their message without disrupting students and faculty who chose not to participate in the event.

"People definitely heard their opinion," she said. "But it definitely did not go over well with some people -- teachers anyway."

Richardson added that one of her students, who she declined to name, complained to her about the protest through Cabell.

"The student that complained was interested in filing a suit," she said. "I don't know if he did or not."

The University Judiciary Committee could not confirm or deny whether charges have been brought against any of the marchers, Judiciary Chair Katie Graney said.

If students or faculty members do decide to bring up any of the marchers on Judiciary charges, protestors could face charges of violating Standards of Conduct 4 and 8 -- the intentional disruption or obstruction of teaching and disorderly conduct.

For charges to be brought against any of the protestors in this case, the students would have to be charged on an individual basis and their names would have to be known, Graney said.

"I think that, as much as [the protestors] have their right to exercise free speech, if they break UJC code while doing that, then UJC has every right to prosecute them for it," said second-year College student Ali Ahmad, treasurer of the College Republicans. "I don't think it's any sort of abrogation of their free speech at all."

Although University Democrats President Ian Amelkin did not participate in the march through Cabell, he said it would set a poor precedent for the protestors to be brought up on Judiciary charges, especially when students at other universities are taking more extreme action.

"I think what they did was totally within reason," Amelkin said. "It's unfortunate that some students' classes were interrupted briefly, but the larger ideal of [protestors] expressing themselves against the war was what was important on that day."

Amelkin said he thinks disruption is warranted in order to make a point.

"The bottom line is that you shouldn't just go about business as usual when the U.S. has launched the first preemptive attack in American history," he said.

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