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Minnesota: Hamline students fight back against code of conduct charges

By Kim DeFranco

Hamline University Students for Justice fighting against the code of conduct violations charges. | Fight Back! News/Kim DeFranco

St. Paul, MN – On May 23, members of the Hamline University Students for Justice (HUSJ) held a gathering at West Hall after their pre-hearing meeting with the Dean of Students, Patti Kersten. The meeting was about the students’ code of conduct violations, charged against them about two weeks after their building occupation and Palestine encampment, even though the university granted them amnesty for the occupation.

According to the HUSJ statement “On May 13, Hamline University issued code of conduct violations to ten students. This happened after a meeting with President Murray where she read all of HUSJ’s charges and told HUSJ our punishments would be more severe by the additional days we camped out, ending with students could be suspended or expelled for their actions and refused to answer further questions. Hamline University then offered an option of a voluntary resolution with the promise we could write it together and would offer the proposal for a Social Responsibility Committee again if students decamped. Four students have taken this option for their safety and job security. Six other students (two are alumni now) took charges because we feel that the university has not made a real attempt at good-faith negotiations.”

June Gromis, a junior, sees these charges as arbitrary, stating, “The evidence that we've received, there is no mention in the report of any physical evidence tying actions of which we are being accused.”

Gromis continued, “We asked them, ‘Why are you charging these students if you have no report from public safety, no video surveillance footage, no material evidence against them?’ The only response given was, ‘I saw them there.’”

Another member of HUSJ stated, “The university charged certain students, mainly the leaders because they either occupied the building or they had been in meetings with them. It’s by their discretion who was charged.”

“The problem of the other students taking the university counteroffer is that it was not clear which codes were really violated since they didn’t have any real evidence pointing to the specific students,” Charlie Rundquist, a 2024 graduate, explained, “and what is noteworthy, they keep shifting the goalposts regarding what the students can and cannot do on campus when protesting.”

The HUSJ statement also pointed to the hypocrisy of the university charging them for protesting the Palestinian genocide because on May 11, “the Hamline University gave an honorary degree to William Kent Krueger because his ability to complete his degree program was taken away by Stanford University when they punished him for participating in the Vietnam war protests. We believe Hamline University is trying to skirt its responsibility to the immediacy of our demands for disclosure and divestment. We feel that Hamline University is not living up to its commitment as a social justice university.”

The students vowed to keep fighting these charges until they are dropped and will not stop protesting the genocide in Gaza. Follow the Hamline University Students for Justice on Instagram @sfj_hamline.

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