Tuesday, February 24, 2009

NYU's Violation of Student Rights

I was not a fan of the student occupation of a New York University cafeteria. I didn't like the incoherent list of bizarre demands, and I don't like the use of occupation as a tactic in general. But the response of NYU in suspending 18 students, who were arrested when the occupation was ended, is a gross abuse of due process.

At a university, a suspension pending a disciplinary hearing is much like holding a prisoner without bail. A suspension prior to a hearing should be used in only the most extreme circumstances, when an individual poses a violent threat to the community. No one imagines that this describes any of the student protesters.

The suspension of a student mid-semester is particularly alarming because of the harm that it causes to a student seeking to complete classes. By suspending these students, NYU is effectively dictating a severe punishment before they are ever found guilty of any offense. All students, even those who strongly disagreed with the protest, should be alarmed at this arbitrary and unnecessary violation of student rights by NYU administrators.

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