Pubdate: Thu, 21 Feb 2008
Source: New Paltz Oracle (SUNY, NY Edu)
Copyright: 2008 New Paltz Oracle
Author: Vixon John, Staff Writer


Protest Outside Haggerty Administration Building Set To  Coincide With
Judicial Hearing

Students gathered outside the Haggerty Administration  Building Friday
to protest the campus drug policy,  illegal police searches of student
rooms on campus and  the judicial procedure.

A crowd of approximately 50 people gathered around 2  p.m., carrying
signs with slogans such as "Judge the  grades, not the green," "Know
your rights, don't count  on the UPD" and "We pay to live here, the
dorms are our  homes, stop unfair police raids." The slogans were
accompanied by chants such as, "We don't need cops, we  just smoke

"No other SUNY school would expel you for smoking pot,"  said junior
journalism major Brian Kimbiz, the main  organizer of the protest.

Kimbiz said that campus police would tell students that  they had to
submit to searches of their rooms when they  were not obligated to. In
some cases, they would  illegally enter students rooms without consent
from the  resident.

"What I found out through my campaigning was that in  Bevier, the cops
will just slide a key card and open  the door and walk in anyway,"
Kimbiz said. "And then  they will rip through a room. For some reason
this  evidence is admissible in these cases, but in a real  court
case, obviously, it would not be."

Pamphlets explaining the protest were handed out, as  well as copies
of the Bill of Rights. The pamphlet  claimed that Student Affairs, the
department on campus  which holds judicial hearings, tried to
manipulate the  judicial process to give students a smaller voice.

"Recently, Student Affairs has been claiming that they  have the
authority to count only one of the three  student votes [on the campus
judicial committee]," the  pamphlet says.

"The administration doesn't keep up their end of the  bargain with
letting us have fair hearings," said  freshman art education major
Maegan Nally, who was  handing out pamphlets.

Some students, like sophomore Jackie Mulhern, attended  the protest
out of curiosity. "People were passing out  fliers and I heard
students talking about it," said  Mulhern.

Those behind the protest were also adamant in speaking  out against
unjust police searches.

"I've heard that the police have been arresting people  with unlawful
searches," said Ashley Townsend, a junior  communication disorders
major. "People are getting  expelled for something that is ridiculous.
It's just  not fair."

Adir Cohen, an undeclared freshman, helped organize the  protest after
one of his friends had been caught with  possession of marijuana.
Police, Cohen said, illegally  entered his room, finding the
marijuana, on the same  day he received his acceptance letter into the
school's  Honor's Program. Prior to that offense, the student
received his first strike a few months prior. The  protest was
scheduled to coincide with their friend's  judicial hearing, to take
place in the HAB.

"We're not doing anything wrong. Just because [of] a  choice of an
alternative lifestyle. There's no reason  why we should be treated
like this," said sophomore  Rafael Weidenfeld. "We have to be more
careful in what  we do."

The two strike policy, according to the Students Affair  page on the
SUNY New Paltz Web site, says "...for  possession of marijuana, first
offense: not less than  Disciplinary Probation and educational and/or
clinical  intervention, not more than Expulsion. Possession of
marijuana, second offense; not less than Expulsion."

At one point, Cohen and Kimbiz, addressed the crowd,  expressing their
anger about the drug policy and police  conduct.

"We're sick of seeing our friends go down like this. It  could be
anyone of us," said Cohen. "We are all good  students and all good

Cohen told those in the crowd that no matter whether or  not they
sympathize with this cause, the passion for  their beliefs should be

"The real reason why we are here [is] we don't stand  for this crap
and we stand by each other," said Kimbiz.  He said though the
two-strike policy might not change,  people must be aware of their
rights, "not only as  students, but American citizens."
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