Four Student Organizations Cleared of Violations
Two groups still under review and may face sanctions
April 27, 2005 4:06 PM
University officials dropped complaints filed against four out of six SF State student organizations on April 20 for allegedly violating school policies.
La Raza, Voices for Sexual Freedom, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, and the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor all were cleared of allegedly violating school protesting policies. The organizations received letters from the Office of Student Leadership and Development saying they may be disciplined for their involvement in a March 9 protest against on-campus military recruiters.
The remaining two groups, Students Against War and the International Socialist Organization, are still under review by the university and may face possible sanctions. Sanctions against the groups can range from a letter of warning to a revocation of their organizations’ funding, rights and privileges.
The Student Organization Hearing Panel is currently reviewing the complaints and will hold a hearing on the matter May 9, according to panel chair Brett Smith.
“We may have made some minor infractions under campus policy, but we have a right under the Bill of Rights to protest,” said Students Against War member Mike Hoffman. “We intend to raise a big fuss about this and make this a big issue. We want to be at a place where whenever there are military recruiters, there will be protesters.”
On March 9 the College of Science and Engineering sponsored a career fair where SF State students looking for jobs or internships in the science, engineering and medical fields could talk to prospective employers. Companies paid anywhere from $300-$350, depending on when they registered, to attend the event, according to the registration form found on the SF State Career Center Web site. According to the Career Center’s attendance list, 24 companies attended the fair that day.
Approximately 150 students marched to the career fair to assemble in front of the Air Force and Army Corps of Engineers’ booth. The protest was organized by Students Against War and supported by the other five groups, according to SAW member Paradis Esmaeili, 18. However, some of the groups didn’t even have members in attendance, Esmaeili said.
Jack Brewer, the director of the Career Center, filed a complaint against the organizations with the Office of Student Leadership and Development after the protest.
“This disruption prevented students from having free access to employers and (denied) their free speech rights to talk to recruiters in a non-threatening environment,” Brewer said in an e-mailed response. “In addition, the students used a bullhorn and performed loud chants which made it impossible for employers attending the career fair to carry on a meaningful discussion with any of our students. The vast majority of the employers left the career fair nearly 2 hours early due to the noise and disruption."
As a result, the Career Center is refunding the over $6,000 in registration fees paid by the various recruiters, said Brewer. He also said the Career Center must still pay for fixed costs such as room rental, printing, food, and shuttle service, totaling about $3,000.
“The university can impose reasonable time and place restrictions (for protests)," said First Amendment lawyer and SF State professor James Wagstaffe. "They can say ‘you can’t protest in the middle of the night, or in a classroom or with a bullhorn.'”
SF State students and SAW members Hoffman, Esmaeili and Katrina Yeaw also may face personal disciplinary action from the school for their involvement in a March 10 incident.
According to Esmaeili, they were removed from the Cesar Chavez Student Center while attempting to pass out anti-military fliers during the second day of the career fair. During the incident, Esmaeili said campus police physically removed her from the building.
All three students received letters from Judicial Affairs Officer Donna Cunningham regarding a complaint she received from the chief of campus safety. All three students must meet individually with Cunningham regarding the complaint. Cunningham could not be reached for comment.
Members from Students Against War, the International Socialist Organization, and Voices for Sexual Freedom met on April 20 to discuss their plan of action against the university for the possible sanctions against the groups and the potential discipline of the three students. Although Voices for
During the meeting, a list of demands from the groups to the university was agreed upon by the 19 students in attendance. The list demands that the student organizations as well as Esmaeili, Hoffman, and Yeaw not be punished for their involvement in the protest of the recruiters. The demands also include the provision that school provide an open forum for SF State President Robert Corrigan, a military representative, and a member of Students Against War to debate the issue of military recruitment, and that the entire campus be declared a “free speech zone.”
On April 26, civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart spoke at SF State to support the student groups. Over 70 people cramped inside room 217 of the Business building. Former San Francisco board of supervisor Matt Gonzalez was also in attendance.
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