Two CCNY Students Suspended as Third Protest Over Closure of Morales-Shakur Center Begins [Updated]
Photo by CCNY student Aber Kawas CCNY students protest outside a campus administrative building.
Update, 4:00 p.m.: It appears that CCNY's North Academic Center (NAC) has once again been placed on lockdown, with students unable to enter or leave. Protest group Liberate CUNY Front claims a student was roughed up and arrested by campus police as he tried to leave the building. More information as we have it.
Update, 5:01 p.m.: Liberate CUNY now says the student was not arrested, but detained, cited, and released. CCNY officials have not yet confirmed or denied the detainment. This video has quickly made the rounds; it appears to show campus police carrying a handcuffed man out of the NAC, into another building, and down an escalator.
On Twitter, CCNY responded directly to Liberate CUNY, denying that the lockdown had taken place: "CCNY, including NAC, have been open all day today." But other students tweeted about having to have class outside, only being able to get onto the campus through its Convent Avenue entrance, because the others were closed off, and one posted this photo, of barricades and police officers in front of several campus buildings.
Original item: Looks like the battle between the City College of New York administration and student protesters over the closure of the Guillermo Morales-Assata Shakur Center is still heating up. This morning, two students involved with the protests were abruptly suspended, just before a planned third demonstration on the lawn of an administrative building.
The MSCC, as the students refer to it, was a hub of campus political activity; it was converted into the "Careers and Professional Development Institute" on Sunday, October 22, with no warning given to the student body beforehand. The school has defended that decision, saying the room was simply "reallocated" to "provide additional services to students seeking assistance in transitioning from college to the workplace."
The students are Khalil Vasquez and Tafadar Sourov, both juniors. According to MSCC director Alyssia Osorio, 22, a senior, the two men were both approached by campus police after class, had their student IDs taken, and told that they were suspended, effective immediately. They are banned from campus while the suspension is in effect. (In response to a question from the Voice about the suspensions, CCNY spokesperson Deidra Hill wrote, "City College follows a community standards process in which student disciplinary actions are confidential unless there is a need to know. City College continues to support students' rights to exercise their constitutional rights and to ensure a safe and peaceful environment for the campus community.")
"They were in the center every day just like myself," Osorio says. "It was so much to us. I think it's ridiculous that the CCNY administration has actually stooped this low...What happens to your financial aid when that happens? What happens to your trajectory of graduation? This kind of thing can really mess up your life."
CCNY President Lisa Coico returned this week from a trip to Spain; in a letter to the students, Coico called the expansion "much-needed." We've posted the full letter below.
CCNY's Facebook page had previously posted articles from the New York Post and AM New York supporting the center's closure. This morning, those were taken down, and another message was posted, reading: "Recent articles on student demonstrations that were posted on this page in no way reflect the views of City College, and have been removed." Both articles support the center's closure on political grounds, with the Post saying the center's name is "obscene," as it "honored two murderous fugitives who now live in Fidel Castro's Cuba." AM New York wrote, "Good riddance to a wretchedly misguided idea."
The protesters are also seeing a bit of a backlash from other students. On the popular CCNY Secrets Facebook page, the two sides have been bickering back and forth, with one uninvolved student telling the protestors, "Y'all gotta chill with the protesting shit man ... be like Martin and do that stuff peacefully ... I missed my freaking midterm cause of y'all smh."
The anonymous moderator of CCNY Secrets also seems to be getting sick of the topic.
"Okay guys, let's get some secrets not related to the protests," he or she wrote, late last week. "Submit a secret about what you had for lunch, anything, please. I beg you."
CCNY President Lisa Coico's letter: