NEWS

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May 19, 2006

Spartacists denounce admin’s ban of member

The Spartacus Youth Club (SYC) is protesting the University’s ban of Hyde Park resident Brian Stapleton, a 19-year-old SYC member, from the U of C campus.

Stapleton, who does not attend the U of C, was arrested after participating in a demonstration in February at the Reynolds Club in which the protestors equated Marine Corps recruiters to Nazis.

Third-year in the College Tom Discepola, who was also arrested during the protest and is a leader of the self-described revolutionary socialist organization, circulated an open letter earlier this week decrying the ban of Stapleton.

“We do not acknowledge your assertion of such powers, with respect to Brian or to any others who would exercise their constitutional rights on the U of C or on any University ‘property’ and will do all in our ability to fight such political repression,” wrote Discepola in a letter addressed to Steve Klass, vice president and dean of students in the University.

In the February protest, Stapleton and Discepola, along with fourth-years Jeremy Cohan and Ben Fink, displayed a sign containing swastikas, chanted loudly, and asked passersby to dismember plastic baby dolls, equating the actions to life in the Marines. Stapleton and Discepola arrived after the protest had begun and stood in support of Cohan and Fink.

Stapleton was notified of the administration’s decision to ban him from campus via a letter delivered certified mail from Klass.

“Although the University believes that your conduct was disruptive and that your arrest on these charges was appropriate under the circumstances, the University nevertheless has decided to ask the Cook County’s State’s Attorney’s office to dismiss the criminal charges against you,” wrote Klass. “Nevertheless, because of your conduct, effective immediately, you are prohibited from entering the campus of the University of Chicago and any and all University property.”

Stapleton and Discepola said they view the ban as an unjust suppression of political activism at the University.

“The SYC’s response has been distributed on campus in leaflet form [and] sent to various campus listserves as well as the endorsers of our March 8 United Front protest,” Discepola said. “Additionally, our lawyer is pursuing the issue.”

“It is quite an outrage that the University is threatening to ban me from campus as an outside agitator just for raising Marxist politics on campus and participating in a protest against Marine recruiters,” said Stapleton. “This is pure and simple political censorship.”

The open letter compared the decision to ban Stapleton to Jim Crow segregation and the Chilean military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

Klass acknowledged receiving Discepola’s response, but it does not appear that the University has any plans to reverse the decision.

“Although it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to address the facts and circumstances surrounding any specific situation, I can say that from time to time the University, as a private institution and property owner, concludes that it is necessary to ban individuals from accessing University property,” Klass said in an e-mail.

“Thankfully, the University uses its authority to ban individuals sparingly and typically it is not necessary to arrest and charge with trespassing those persons who have been banned, because usually they take the ban seriously and stay away from University property,” Klass added.