Student Senate passed a bill Wednesday requesting Ohio University’s administration to drop all charges filed against 70 students arrested for participating in a protest opposing President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.
The bill also calls for the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility to remove sanctions against any student who participated in last week's protest.
"Student Legal Services finds these charges to be unwarranted and frankly, outrageous," Ankia Holland, chairperson for Student Legal Services, said during the Student Speakout portion of the meeting.
Some senators echoed Holland’s statement.
“These are our brothers and sisters, and we are fighting for each other. You shouldn’t be prosecuted for doing something like that,” Amal Afyouni, international affairs vice-commissioner, said.
Steve Lichtenfels, senate treasurer, wasn’t present at Wednesday’s meeting, but sent a statement to be read to the body.
“These protesters were not done an injustice by being arrested. Just because it was a peaceful protest does not mean it was a legal one,” Lichtenfels said in his statement.
Max Zelman, a student who was arrested at the protest, said they believe arrests were unnecessary.
"A protest is not meant to be convenient, we're there to have our voices heard by people who actually have the power to make a difference,” Zelman said.
Others were concerned by a statement made by the Ohio University Police Department Chief Andrew Powers to The Athens News regarding sit-ins in Baker Center.
"The problem is that every time that we do this, that we allow anyone to do it, we've got to allow everyone to do it. That means that if the Ku Klux Klan came in and sat in on the rotunda, we'd have to let them stay if we allowed other people to stay," Powers said in The Athens News article.
Kim Reynolds, a women’s affairs vice-commissioner, said that last Wednesday’s sit-in and a Ku Klux Klan sit-in were not comparable.
“Sitting down, peacefully protesting against a travel ban is not the same thing as a group rooted in genocide and eradication of minorities sitting down and trying to advocate for that,” Reynolds said.
Also at Wednesday night’s meeting, OU Interim President David Descutner spoke to senators about what they hope OU’s next president will accomplish.
“I want a president who’s willing to be uncomfortable, to admit that he or she is wrong, who is flexible and who is willing to face things head-on,” Carolyn Miller, a senator at-large, said.
Descutner promised to relay the information to the next president.
Additionally, budgets to purchase blue books, copy paper and Sex Week tabling supplies passed. A resolution to compensate the judicial panel was tabled until next week’s meeting.