By Sarah Tan and Carla Zanoni
GRAMMERCY PARK — Fifteen protesters were arrested Monday by CUNY public safety officers during a tuition hike demonstration at Baruch College, school officials said.
Roughly 300 had gathered outside Baruch's William and Anita Newman Vertical Campus Conference Center, at 55 Lexington Ave., to protest during the school’s Board of Trustees hearing. Video captured by The Ticker, Baruch’s college newspaper, showed a chaotic scene at the school with CUNY officers arresting protesters who had pushed through the doors to enter the lobby of the building to voice opposition at the hearing.
“It just devolved into chaos,” said 19-year-old student Caitlin MacLaren, who joined the protest.
Baruch spokesman Michael Arena said most of the 15 protesters were issued a summons by CUNY public safety officers and released, but a small number, which was not immediately available, were referred to the NYPD.
"Obviously those were for more serious actions or allegations than disorderly conduct," he said.
Students said they were angered by the state’s "Rational Tuition Plan," a new law passed during the summer that allows CUNY and SUNY schools to raise tuition $300 per year for five years.
The protesters attempting to go to the hearing were directed to an overflow room equipped with the live video since the room was already filled to capacity, school officials said. But some refused to go and were asked twice by CUNY Public Safety officers and Baruch College officials to exit the lobby or go to the overflow room.
"They refused, creating a public safety hazard," according to a statement from CUNY. "In order to ensure that public safety and access to the building was maintained for students who were attending classes this evening, the CUNY Public Safety officers secured the space and removed the protesters."
School officials said one public safety officer was transported to a hospital for chest pains and two others received minor injuries.
Michael Arena, a spokesman for the school, said although some protesters were from Baruch many came from area schools that "have been active in the Occupy [Wall Street] movement."
Baruch student Brittany Robinson, 21, said she saw officers punch and push protesters and use batons to hit protester’s fingers as they clung to the building’s doors while trying to enter.
“It was disgusting,” she said.