ASG passes resolution on assembly guidelines

Allegheny Student Government voted on Tuesday, April 11, to approve Resolution 17-03 which declared ASG’s position on the college’s Peaceful Assembly Guidelines.

“We call upon the Dean of Students Office, the Campus Life and Community Standards Committee, and the Office of the President to recognize this document and to withhold the active enforcement of the Peaceful Assembly Guidelines indefinitely, as Allegheny Student Government maintains that such an action would situate the dynamics of the campus/community into a precarious position,” Resolution 17-03 reads in part.

Director of Diversity and Inclusion Yemi Olaiya, ’17, originally proposed the Resolution on March 14. It was brought along with Resolution 17-02, which voiced student government’s opposition to the arming of public safety officers.

We call upon the Dean of Students Office, the Campus Life and Community Standards Committee, and the Office of the President … to withhold the active enforcement of the Peaceful Assembly Guidelines indefinitely.

— ASG Resolution 17-03

The resolution was passed following concerns from student government regarding the college’s Peaceful Assembly Guidelines, which were passed by Campus Life and Community Standards and the Administrative Executive Council in fall 2016, according to Dean of Students Kimberly Ferguson.

At an April 4 meeting, members of ASG expressed concerns that the language in the college guidelines seemed to insinuate that the college had the right to move protesters to a new location in the event of a counter protest.

During a moderated discussion of the resolution on April 4, Co-Director of Student Affairs Matt Hartwell, ’18, said a version of the guidelines that was originally proposed included language that would have given the college the power to relocate protesters to another area. He said this language was removed before the guidelines were approved.

At the same meeting, several members of ASG senate and cabinet said they felt the guidelines were vague on the subject of counter protests and the relocation of student demonstrations.

“A peaceful assembly on campus may invite another form of assembly. When these occasions arise, the expression of all parties is important. Please note that another area may be identified for those persons with views that differ from those held by the event organizers,” the guidelines read in part.

Hartwell said on April 4 that the college was not expressly given the right to relocate students, only to identify a new space for them.

Sen. Amy Currul, ’17, voiced her support of the resolution, despite the changes to the guidelines.

“I think we still have the same concerns, even if the language has been changed in the document,” Currul said on April 4.

The version of Resolution 17-03 that was passed on April 11 included amendments to the language that, among other minor changes, revised the wording to reflect the fact that the guidelines had been adopted by the college. In the initial draft, the resolution called on the college to “withhold the passage of the Peaceful Assembly Guidelines indefinitely.”

Olaiya said the changes to the resolution were largely for the sake of clarity.

“It was mostly worded to be more specific,” Olaiya said.

The motion to pass the resolution was met by opposition from Sen. Jason Ferrante, ’20, who said the document had been sent out to senators five minutes prior to the meeting, which did not give senators adequate time to read the document before voting.

Ferrante said he was also concerned that ASG seemed to lack information about the guidelines.

“I’m also concerned that we don’t understand the college policy and how [the resolution] will interact with that,” Ferrante said.

He suggested tabling the resolution for another week, so that all senators would have a chance to thoroughly read the document.

Currul said she felt there had already been enough discussion on the resolution and the changes that had been made were minor enough that  the senate did have the ability to vote on it.

“It’s one change to a large document that we have been working on for some time,” Currul said.

The resolution was passed by a senate vote of 10–7 with one abstention.