Seton Hall’s executive cabinet revised the student demonstration policy a few weeks ago, which included the prohibition of indoor protests. This revision follows a protest campaign from Concerned 44 that utilized sit-in tactics at Presidents Hall.
Concerned 44 is a student activist group that “represents the marginalized student body at Seton Hall University,” according to the group’s Instagram page. The student group protested the mishandling of the Africana Studies department among other factors.
Tracy Gottlieb, vice president of Student Services, wrote in an email that the Concerned 44’s protests expressed a need to change the protest policy.
The policy is effective immediately and Gottlieb announced the change at a SGA meeting a few weeks ago.
Moreover, Gottlieb said the executive cabinet revised the policy’s language.
The policy states that students who request a permit must allow two business days for the university to review the request.
“The South Orange Fire Department informed us that the action by the students in Presidents Hall was in violation of South Orange fire laws,” Gottlieb said. “And we were told that the fines for this violation were about $5,000 a day. This, coupled by our own concerns for protecting the safety and wellbeing of our whole community, prompted this action by the Executive Cabinet.”
Christian Duran, a senior history and Africana studies major, finds the revision of the protest policy problematic. Duran who participated in the Concerned 44 protests claimed the overall treatment of protesters was poor and disrespectful. He claimed they were threatened with disciplinary action if they did not vacate Presidents Hall during their days-long sit-in.
Additionally, he claims protest guidelines were communicated to the group by the administration.
“The University is unequivocally and ethically wrong,” Duran said. “[The University] seems to not understand the role of a protest is to disrupt in order to create change. This is most likely due to the reason that the University does not desire to see real change to better its students.”
Another Concerned 44, junior public relations major, protester Lianne Joseph said she felt that the administrators “micromanaged” the movements of the protesters. She claims the administrators were concerned with students breaking fire safety guidelines, while asserting that Presidents Hall has an improper fire alarm system. However, she claimed students were threatened with disciplinary action, but none of the protestors faced punishment.
“I think it’s very disrespectful for the school to condemn peaceful protesting and be so quick to punish students,” Joseph said. “If the school put as much effort into learning and assisting students’ problems as they do towards punishing the students who speak out, there would be no need to protest in the first place.”
Thomas Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.