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Friday, June 21, 2024
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7 students arrested during May 1 protest will not face on-campus disciplinary action

The university previously left the door open to sanctioning students

<p>Two Buffalo police officers arrest a protester Wednesday, May 1, 2024, on UB's North Campus.&nbsp;</p>

Two Buffalo police officers arrest a protester Wednesday, May 1, 2024, on UB's North Campus. 

UB will not charge the seven students arrested during last week’s pro-Palestine demonstration with Student Code of Conduct violations, university spokesperson John Della Contrada told The Spectrum Thursday evening. 

The seven students — plus eight protesters not affiliated with the university — were arrested on May 1 after they refused to disperse at sundown. UB administrators maintain that by doing so, the protesters violated the university’s Picketing and Assembling Policy, which prohibits “overnight assemblies.” 

In a statement issued the day of the protest, the university said that it could not “confirm or comment on disciplinary actions involving specific UB students” because of federal education privacy law, but it left the door open to taking disciplinary action against arrested students. 

“Generally speaking, the university has an on-campus judiciary process to address alleged violations of the university’s Student Code of Conduct,” the statement reads. “Should a student’s action be ruled as violating the Student Code of Conduct, the student may be subject to a variety of sanctions.”

Della Contrada said that the arrested students “were advised that as a UB student they must follow the Picketing and Demonstration guidelines and the UB Code of Conduct.”

Those arrested were written up for “a range of charges” under New York State law, including loitering, trespass, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, according to a May 2 university statement. All the arrested individuals were released with appearance tickets for Amherst Town Court. 

It remains unclear whether any of those criminal charges and state law violations have been dropped. A spokesperson for the Erie County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night. 

The Picketing and Assembling Policy was last amended in April 2020. Since then, UB administrators haven’t used it to remove protests that extended past sunset, including protests against Michael Knowles’ and Allen West’s on-campus speeches in 2023 and 2022. Both protests lasted well beyond sunset, and Knowles’ speech drew hundreds of protesters, including Western New Yorkers not affiliated with the university.

UB says that 15 demonstrators were arrested during the May 1 pro-Palestine march, and that one protester and two police officers were injured. A protest organizer with UB’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine told The Spectrum that 18 were arrested and two protesters were injured. 

Protesters had attempted to set up an encampment outside Hochstetter Hall earlier in the evening, but they tore down their tents after police ordered them to do so. UB policy explicitly prohibits “indoor and outdoor encampment.” 

The arrests and police response on May 1 led to several demonstrations in the ensuing days. Hundreds marched on campus on Friday, May 3, to call for UB to divest from Israel and to protest police treatment of demonstrators. Various groups hosted pro-Palestine and pro-Israel rallies Sunday, Monday and Thursday this week. 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

Sol Hauser contributed reporting to this story.

Grant Ashley is the editor in chief and can be reached at grant.ashley@ubspectrum.com


GRANT ASHLEY
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Grant Ashley is the editor in chief of The Spectrum. He's also reported for NPR, WBFO, WIVB and The Buffalo News. He enjoys taking long bike rides, baking with his parents’ ingredients and recreating Bob Ross paintings in crayon. He can be found on the platform formerly known as Twitter at @Grantrashley. 

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