posted 2011-02-23 13:00:14

International Socialist Club Clashes with Hunter Security

International Socialist Club Clashes with Hunter Security

Is peaceful protest a thing of the past?

Dan Seminara

Staff Writer

Peaceful protest has long been a basic, inalienable right of American citizens, but is Hunter security trying to limit that right here on campus? The International Socialist Organization (ISO) claims it may be so.

A message sent out to the Hunter Listserv by club president Owen Hill said that soon after sending its first e-mail publicizing a speak-out event, the club received a concerned phone call from Hunter security. As a result, the club canceled the speak-out and decided only to do a tabling event.

According to Hill, however, his organization was nonetheless told to call Hunter security about the upcoming tabling.

Club treasurer Bronwyn Roe said that ISO members were approached by eight security guards while they were setting up the tables. Several more guards appeared in the clubroom, and others patrolled on the first floor. Security then asked the ISO for a permit. The club members went to go get one and gave it to the guards, who closely inspected it, made some phone calls, and questioned club representatives. “It was overwhelming, and unexpected, and just rash of them,” Roe remarked.

Roe went on to say that Hunter security also closed the cafeteria and sent the workers home without pay. “I don’t know what they expected to happen, especially since we called for a peaceful speak-out in solidarity [with] Egypt,” she said.

Hill speculated that “a borderline irrational fear… has overtaken the administration” ever since three protesters were arrested on March 4, 2010 at an ISO rally against CUNY budget cuts. The protests had attracted alleged anarchist groups from other schools, along with a few of Hunter’s more extreme activists, who joined and inflamed the demonstration.

When the ISO refused to cooperate, the more radical demonstrators “went on a sort of a rampage,” Hill recalled.

“It provided Hunter with the kind of excuse they needed to crack down on any sort of democracy taking place inside the school,” he said.

When asked about this event, Meredith Halpern, the Hunter College director of marketing and communications, remarked, “as is the case at all tabling events at the college, campus security checks in with the sponsoring student club or organization to ensure that it has secured the proper permit.”

The ISO says that it has not been intimidated at any of its tabling events since the incident, and that it has had issues with security before, but not to that extent.

“I think that standing up for ourselves and sending that info out over the Hunter L [Listserv] sends the message that we’re not going to be intimidated,” Hill concluded.