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Peña Visits Broadview to Discuss Student Protests

Updated: May 10

By: Jennifer Ward, Barbara Kay, Belle Martinelli, and Thomas Dachik


Peña holding an open conversation with Broadview residents. (Photo by: Thomas Dachik)


 Yesterday morning, President Milly Peña held a meeting at Broadview to discuss this past weekend’s events with the residents. Many residents say they were having trouble getting onto campus with the UPD checks. 


President Peña opened the discussion to Broadview residents to ask questions. Many wanted clarifications on what the students in the encampment were demanding, as well as the number of arrests after the police raid of the May 2 encampment. 


“Students asked for all kinds of things outside what the college and I support,” she said. 


Peña confirmed that around 70 students and faculty were arrested and although she did not have exact numbers, at least three of those arrests were outsiders not affiliated with the college, according to information from UPD Chief Dayton Tucker. 


Tucker did not respond to The Phoenix’s request to confirm these arrests of outside protesters. 


One resident raised concerns about supporting the students. “I’m just very concerned that we’re giving a message that there’s only one way to think,” she said to Peña. She continued to express support in being tolerant of students, saying “The world is bigger than this.”


Peña referred to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act when addressing concerns over Thursday night’s police raid. Title VI prevents any person from being subject to discrimination based on race, religion, etc.


“Title VI trumps any First Amendment rights,” Peña said.


Peña addressed the residents' concerns. (Photo by: Thomas Dachik)


On May 5, Peña designated the Great Lawn as the “free speech zone.” She wrote in a campus-wide email, “If students want to exercise their speech rights” they must do so on the Great Lawn only between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.-- before and after are “quiet hours.” 


“After many discussions about how to best balance the campus’s right to protest and exercise free speech while balancing safety and security, we have set up the Great Lawn as a Free Speech Zone, effective immediately,” she wrote. “As communicated multiple times, protests are only allowed during hours that are not defined as ‘Quiet Hours,’” she continued.


During Peña’s discussion with Broadview residents, she detailed, as she feels, the need for open communication and dialogue, which is why Broadview was built in the first place.


“Creating the right space and the right conversation is not always gonna be pretty,” Peña said. “You can’t have a food fight.”


Multiple Broadview residents were in attendance to listen to Peña and ask questions. (Photo by: Thomas Dachik)


Alyce Kaufman, Hillel liaison for Broadview, was also present at the meeting and raised concerns about “threatening” speech towards students during the protests and that she feels it could have been prevented. 


“Much more could have been done [by the administration],” Kaufman said. “There has to be more outreach to students that don’t agree with the protesters.” 


“That’s why I’m here,” she continued. “It’s my [school] too.” 



“I am writing to you now out of sheer disgust and disappointment at your appeasement of Raise the Consciousness (RTC) after the repeated disruptions, vandalism, and conduct violations they have committed throughout the year,” she wrote, “While failing to give any measurable credence to the harassment and bullying consistency reported to you and your senior leadership.” 


Heller’s letter sparked discourse among the community, especially with Purchase Jews for Palestine, who then released their own statement. They said they have been “outright ignored by bad media actors who like to paint protests and organizations for Palestinian liberation as antisemitic.” 


“We implore you to understand that we do not cosign violence, apartheid, genocide, and bombardment because it is done by a country that claims to have our interests because our interests are opposed,” they wrote.  


At the Broadview meeting, Peña went on to explain that the divestment originally demanded acts in ways that were not reflective of the value in the state of the Purchase community. She also clarified that after the negotiation meeting on the evening of May 6, information about the negotiations and demands were misconstrued and spread.


“Not even an hour after the meeting, they started spitting information that was false,” Peña said. 

Peña is set to release a community wide email detailing the agreements made on May 6, according to RTC leaders. 


© The Purchase Phoenix, 2024


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