May 1, 2006
The 17 UVA students arrested after a four day sit-in at Madison Hall went before the University Judiciary Committee today. Both sides have rested, and now the five judge panel has to determine the students' fate.
The closed door hearing got started just after 7 p.m. The complainant, the University of Virginia, brought forth several witnesses that described the protesting students as unruly, disruptive, and unwilling to compromise. After just an hour, they rested and counsel for the accused questioned several of the protesters.
The 17 students were arrested back on April 15th after conducting a four day sit-in at Madison Hall. The protesters were part of the Living Wage campaign, protesting what they describe as a low salary for many University workers. One of the organizers says he is perplexed why charges are even being brought at all.
"I think it's strange that we attack the members of our community who are simply doing what they feel is best for the community and who are trying to help other members of the community in a good way," said Graham Evans.
There are two phases to the hearing. First, the five judge panel will determine guilt or innocence. Next, if found guilty, they will determine what sanctions to bring forth. The possibilities run from an oral reprimand to suspension or expulsion.
The complainant must prove to four of the five judges beyond a reasonable doubt that they are guilty of the three violations of the Student Code of Conduct. The charges include unauthorized entry of a building and failure to comply with a University official.