To the Editor:
A recent dispute on the Wheel’s op-ed pages about the seven Emory students arrested last May raises important questions about the place of political dissent on our campus.
Following a recent editorial that criticized the University for its use of excessive legal force, (“Emory’s Use of Legal Force Excessive,” by Alex Robins, March 27, 2012), Emory shot back with a defense of its actions. Claiming that the editorial misrepresented the facts, the University presented the administration as a collaborative, constructive force whose only goal has been to help the students get the charges dismissed.
This picture of administrative beneficence diverts our attention away from two important issues.
First, the University claims it is not Emory but the county that is pursuing charges against the students. This is simply standard legal procedure in criminal cases. Lawyer friends tell me that the county would have no interest in pursuing the case if the University petitioned to have the charges dropped, which leads me to conclude that Emory has not kept their promise to drop the charges.
Second, the University’s rhetoric about its collaborative efforts hides its bullying behavior. Emory’s offer to help get the charges dismissed comes with a condition: that the students sign an agreement depriving them of rights the rest of us enjoy. This is less an offer of help than it is a political tactic that obfuscates Emory’s use of excessive force in arresting the students in the first place.
In the face of the Supreme Court’s decision this week to allow strip searches with any arrest, no matter how minor the infraction, we must ask ourselves what role Emory will play in an increasingly carceral society. Will Emory be a place where protest is managed by committees on dissent? Or will we develop non-scripted ways to resist and transform what has become a chilly place for political protest?
Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies