[Note: This Columbia Spectator article incorrectly idenitified Hampton University as “Howard University.”]
[Hampton] University heard the case of seven students charged with distributing unauthorized flyers, holding an unapproved protest, and proselytizing to students on Friday morning. The university will announce how it plans to punish these students next week, though five of them have already been assigned 20 hours of community service.
The seven students were part of a group of 20 that handed out flyers about the Iraq war, the genocide in Darfur, and other political issues as part of a campaign by the World Can’t Wait, a national organization that urged walkouts against the Bush administration on Nov. 2. After 30 minutes of student demonstrations, university police videotaped the protest, disbanded it, and demanded the identification cards of several students involved.
On Nov. 18, three students were summoned to hearings with letters threatening expulsion as a maximum punishment. Days later, four more received the same summons.
In response, groups such as the World Can’t Wait, the ACLU, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, issued letters of complaint to the university.
On Dec. 1, Bennie McMorris, the university’s vice president for student affairs, announced that the students would not be facing expulsion.
Many of the students facing punishment were members of the campus Amnesty International group that had been refused recognition four years in a row. When McMorris was asked if the protest would have been approved had the students sought permission, the vice president said the university would not sanction such disruptions of the learning process, according to the Daily Press.