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Letter to the editor

To The Editor:

I was surprised and dismayed to learn from an April 20 op-ed in The Chronicle that formal misconduct proceedings have commenced for the nine students who occupied Allen Building for several days in early April. During the occupation, at the invitation of Provost Kornbluth, I spent more than 15 hours over two days in Allen Building as a neutral faculty participant in the negotiations between the students and the administration. After Dean Wasiolek confirmed the judicial proceedings, I wrote to her, Provost Kornbluth and Vice President Moneta to say the administration has violated the spirit and substance of the general amnesty granted the students while I was present. 

The students were told by the administration they had “complete and unconditional amnesty” for the occupation, so long as they committed no acts of vandalism. I have learned from Dean Wasiolek that subsequent to the amnesty discussions in which I participated, the administration unilaterally attached two conditions to the amnesty. She and Vice-President Moneta, via email, informed the students that amnesty would be forfeited if they used restrooms near the Classics Department, and if they accessed the exterior balcony on the second floor. With this unilateral declaration, the negotiated unconditional amnesty was no longer unconditional. 

The misconduct proceedings were triggered when Dean Wasiolek learned some of the students used the restroom she and Vice President Moneta had declared off limits, and when seven students climbed onto the balcony. After several email exchanges with them, it has become clear to me the initiation of student conduct reviews by Dean Wasiolek and Vice President Moneta is an unfortunate and petty retaliatory betrayal of good faith and good judgement. It is baffling that the administration chose not to cite or sanction the students for occupying the building and causing it to be closed for a week, but now they’ve decided to conduct disciplinary inquiries because the students used a bathroom and went onto a balcony for a photo-op and moral support. 

Until very recently, I believed the administration had acted in good faith and had shown considerable restraint under trying circumstances. With these acts, however, the administration seems to have lost its desire to occupy the high ground. I participated in those deliberations in good faith and with good intentions. It was disappointing to learn that Dean Wasiolek and Vice President Moneta reneged on the amnesty agreement and commenced what is arguably vindictive administrative action. Should the students and the administration resume their conversations, I hope Dean Wasiolek and Vice President Moneta are kept on the sidelines. It is hard to imagine them as trusted and effective participants.

Kerry L. Haynie

Associate Professor

Department of Political Science and

Department of African & African American Studies

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