Protesters demand meeting over fines
April 7, 2010 7:59 PM
Note to readers: To clarify, the student occupiers were charged for repairing a broken window, janitorial fees and police lodging. But the original agreement did not include the janitorial fees or the police lodging, according to Jacob Bernhardt.
After a sit-in at the Administration building that lasted approximately two hours, protesters demanded a meeting with the Assistant Dean of Students to voice their complaints regarding fines levied against them.
On April 7, the protesters attempted to set a meeting time with Assistant Dean of Students Will Flowers to talk about the fines 11 students received after occupying the Business building in December 2009. Each student was billed $744 for damages during the occupation. They believe some of the charges are unlawful.
"A month and a half after the occupation, he (Flowers) talked to us all individually," protester Jacob Bernhardt said, "threatening us with suspension of one year if we didn't sign an agreement."
This agreement included charges for repairing a broken window, janitorial fees and lodging for police officers from out of the area during the occupation. The 11 students had freezes put on their registration and transcripts until all the fines are paid, according to Bernhardt.
"It's an illegal denial of services," he said.
Flowers refused to meet with Bernhardt and the protesters, saying that he would "not be intimidated" by the group. He told those facing fines would have to meet with him individually to resolve the issue.
Earlier in the day, police limited access to the Administration building after the group attempted to have a peaceful sit-in. The demonstrators tried to storm SF State President Robert Corrigan's office and present him with the letter of complaint but found the door locked, according to sophomore Alexandrea Onas.
Protester Caitlin Fountain said the demonstrators had been planning the sit-in for a couple of weeks. "We are protesting against the Administration cracking down on student activism on campus," she said.
Biology major Georgina Rai witnessed the demonstration while in the grass in the quad area and later joined the onlookers at the Administration building. Rai believed the police used excessive force when dealing with the situation and that they should take more responsibility for their actions.
However, while many students commiserated with problems presented by fee increases and furloughs, some thought it was unrealistic for the protesters to expect amnesty for the Business building occupation, which displaced 3,200 students during finals week last semester.
"Fees are horrible," Emily Switzer, representative for the Assoicated Students, Inc, said, "but it could have been much worse in regards to civil disobedience. There are consequences to expect."
While the students made themselves comfortable inside the Administration building, police officers denied more protesters from entering by requiring everyone to present identification. William Orr, who attends a community college in Oakland, said he and four other students were pushed to the ground by police after attempting to get inside the building.
"Students get punished here and that affects all students trying to fight for free education," Orr said.
Police refused to comment on the situation.
At 3:24 p.m., the protesters voluntarily left the Administration building and went to present their letter of complaint to Flowers instead of Corrigan.
After Flowers refused to answer their complaint, they left Student Services, claiming they would be back "the next week and the next week" until they get a meeting.
Andrew Palma contributed to this article.
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