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Baruch Restricting Building Access for Trustee Meeting

By Tom Liddy | November 27, 2011 12:42pm
Baruch College hosted the CUNY Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011.
Baruch College hosted the CUNY Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Mary Johnson

MANHATTAN — Baruch is battening down the hatches.

In an attempt to avoid a repeat of last week's violent clash between campus police and students protesting a tuition hike, Baruch College is postponing classes Monday during a meeting of CUNY's Trustees and plans to keep the building's lobby clear, according to a message posted on the school's website.

"We are determined to avoid any repetition of the regrettable events that occurred in the narrow confines of the [Newman Vertical Campus] lobby during the CUNY Board’s public hearing last Monday," said the message, from the school's president, Mitchel Wallerstein.

Some 15 students were arrested last Monday during a dust-up with campus police there after hundreds showed up to protest a hearing of the Board of Trustees.

Five were held overnight in jail on an array of charges and some said that the officers hit members of the group with nightsticks and dragged them out into the street.

According to the note from Wallerstein, only students who are finishing a class already in progress will be allowed in the NVC building after 3 p.m. along with "those with an urgent and legitimate need to be in the building."

Baruch spokeswoman Christina Latouf clarified that despite the restriction, students and other members of the public will be allowed to attend the meeting until the hearing room is full.

Those who cannot be accommodated will be able to watch a broadcast of the meeting streamed live on the web, she said.

While the lobby, the site of last week's protest, will be kept clear, students and others will be allowed to congregate outside the building.

According to the note from Wallerstein, all classes scheduled in the building, at 55 Lexington Ave., after 3 p.m. will be moved to Friday, Dec. 2 in the same room at the same time.

And administrative staff who work in the building will be granted administrative leave that day beginning at 3 p.m.

"These actions are being taken to ensure the safety of all students, faculty and staff during the period surrounding the meeting of the CUNY Board of Trustees," the note said.

Despite the planned restrictions, Wallerstein maintained that the university was committed to the free speech rights of protesters.

"I want to restate again my commitment to the right of free expression on the Baruch College campus," he wrote. "Until such time as we are able to obtain an outdoor public plaza, we will work to identify other public spaces where members of the Baruch College community can gather to express their views in a peaceful and orderly fashion."

CUNY's board is set to meet at 4:30 p.m. to vote on the 2012-'13 budget request, which includes tuition increases of $300-a-year for the next five years for college students among others, according to an agenda posted on the school's web site.