Senior administrators emphasize NU’s demonstration policy following student protest


Gabe Bider/The Daily Northwestern

After just over three minutes, student protesters set their banners down as they prepare to walk off the football field. The demonstrators said they only left the football field once they were threatened with arrest.

Waverly Long, Campus Editor

Following a student protest at the Nov. 6 Northwestern-Iowa football game, senior administrators reiterated NU’s demonstration policy in a universitywide email Tuesday, emphasizing the University will take action to hold demonstrators accountable for violating the policy.

The email said the University protects students’ freedom of speech but will enforce repercussions for students who violate the demonstration policy. Ramifications may involve “suspension, expulsion or legal consequences as appropriate,” the email said.

The statement specifically condemned the Nov. 6 protest, stating it presented “unique challenges for the safety and well-being of all involved.” According to NU’s demonstration policy, no community member may “prevent or obstruct” a University activity. 

At the protest, students holding banners ran onto Ryan Field during the game and stood for around three minutes before they were escorted off the field. Some spectators yelled slurs and threw objects in the direction of the protestors, and one Iowa fan ran onto the field and attempted to grab the students’ banners, pulling one protester to the ground.

University-issued statements regarding ramifications for student protestors are not unprecedented at NU. In response to ongoing protests led by abolitionist student group NU Community Not Cops in fall 2020, University President Morton Schapiro strongly condemned the actions, citing property defacement, city disruptions, road blockages and other violations of “laws and University standards.”

In fall 2019, five NU students received citations for “disorderly conduct and interfering with the duties of a police officer” following a month-long investigation into protests against former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The charges were later dismissed in Evanston court, but the students also underwent a separate University accountability process.

The universitywide Tuesday email — which was signed by Schapiro, Provost Kathleen Hagerty, Executive Vice President Craig Johnson and Vice President for Student Affairs Julie Payne-Kirchmeier — also comes in the days that follow anti-Indigenous vandalism at The Rock. The University addressed the vandalism in a statement published in Leadership Notes but did not issue a university-wide email.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @waverly_long

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