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Brooklyn College Protest: Correcting the Record

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On behalf of the Brooklyn College administration, I can only assume that Mr. Chiroux, having not attended the event in question, has fallen victim to the falsehoods and inflammatory rhetoric of some of those responsible for the demonstration. My colleagues and I have viewed the available footage and spoken with several personnel who were on the scene. Nothing we have seen or heard supports allegations of excessive force or police brutality. We encourage anyone who witnessed or experienced a specific incident to file an official complaint. The college takes all such complaints very seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation.

Many individuals have been actively circulating misinformation about the events of May 2. Please allow me to correct the record.

• At no time during the demonstration did NYPD officers step foot onto our campus. Some NYPD personnel were present outside of the campus gates at the request of their commanding officer.

• No peace officers or other Brooklyn College personnel used pepper spray, batons, or riot cuffs during the events of May 2.

• When removing one young woman from deliberately blocking an entrance, an officer did briefly take possession of her cane. It was returned to her as soon as she was assisted to a standing position and relocated from the doorway.

• The protestors were chanting loudly and yelling profanities, disrupting classes that were in session at the time, well before our peace officers began to intervene. The assertion that the "pandemonium" ensued due to the actions of our public safety officers is false.

That President Gould refused to respond to a student petition -- reportedly the basis for the demonstration -- is also patently false. While she did see a list of demands, which was never delivered to her office directly, the document contained no contact information to which she should direct a response. Therefore, in an effort to respond to some of their concerns, the president used her recent State of the College address to share with the community a number of efforts that are already underway. On April 19, a copy of these remarks with the relevant portions highlighted was delivered to students present at the address, including several who were involved in the protest of May 2. A full transcript of her speech also appeared in the student press. To suggest that the administration has been silent on these matters is disingenuous.

Mr. Chiroux also asserts that the Student Union has never violated college policy, which is incorrect. There are clear guidelines for all student-initiated events, none of which were followed in this case. Had those planning the demonstration spoken with the Division of Student Affairs in advance of their event, like all other student groups do regularly, and had they followed standard college policies and procedures, I have no doubt the demonstration on May 2 would have occurred without incident. Unfortunately, the protestors' intent was not to demonstrate peacefully, but to provoke action in the interest of advancing their cause.

President Gould and the entire administration share the concerns of students, faculty, and staff about the nationwide decline in support for public higher education, and we are taking several steps to mitigate the impact of tuition increases on our students and their families. However, we are proud that the cost to attend Brooklyn College remains below that of 80% of all colleges and universities in the United States; that tuition is fully covered for 60% of our undergraduates without taking out any student loans; and that our private fundraising for students in need, which has doubled over the past 18 months, enables us to provide additional funds to more than 1,200 students in need every year. This is the true story of Brooklyn College.