A week after student protesters at Brown University prevented Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly from delivering a guest lecture on New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy, there is little evidence that university leaders are taking any serious countermeasures to reassert freedom of speech on campus.
Brown President Christina Paxson issued a condemnation of the protesters’s tactics after they shut down the Kelly event on Tuesday, promising to convene a forum “in order to discuss our values and expectations as a community.” (RELATED: Liberal mob shouts down speaker at Brown U, calls it ‘free speech’)
But there has been no word on whether the leaders of the protest — who publicly boasted of their success and promised to increase their activities — will face disciplinary measures.
The Student Code of Conduct gives all students the right to attend university functions and make use of the facilities. In keeping with the spirit of the First Amendment, protests are also allowed, but must not interfere with other students’ rights.
“Protests or demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to peaceful assembly, orderly protest, the free exchange of ideas, or that interfere with the rights of others to make use of or enjoy the facilities or attend the functions of the University cannot be tolerated,” according to the code.
Serious and persistent violations may result in suspension or expulsion, according to the code.
Paxson did not respond to a question from The Daily Caller about what punishment students involved in the protest would face, if any.
When Paxson’s proposed forum took place last week, protest leader Jenny Li was a featured speaker. She received a standing ovation from the crowd of Brown students and community members.
“We are not denying his right to free speech, we are denying his right to stand on a podium and spew hate speech,” she said, according to The Brown Daily Herald.
Marion Orr, the political science professor who brought Kelly to the university to speak, also addressed the crowd. He apologized to his “black students and Latino brothers and sisters,” for the pain he caused them by inviting Kelly. He also asked protesters to give him a list of speakers who would meet their satisfaction and be approved to speak.
Orr later claimed that he was being sarcastic when he proposed such a list. But the crowd–which thunderously applauded the suggestion–could not have known he was being sarcastic, according to Legal Insurrection.
Orr did not respond to a request for comment.
But if administrators are reluctant to criticize the protesters, many faculty members are outright supporters of them.
A panel of five faculty members convened a teach-in to discuss protest issues and stop-and-frisk.
One of the panelists, postdoctoral fellow Stefano Bloch, said that he was “incredibly proud” of the protesters. Another panelist, postdoctoral fellow Linda Quiquivix, said that it was important to shut down Kelly’s speech because of the publicity it would generate.
“We all recognize that the shutting down part was important because it wouldn’t have received as much publicity and as much news if it had just been a protest,” she said, according to The Brown Daily Herald.