For over two weeks, members of the Hopkins and Baltimore community have participated in a sit-in at Garland Hall to protest the proposed private police force and the University’s contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The protest is organized by Students Against Private Police (SAPP) and the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE (HCAI).
The administration expressed support of protesters’ free expression but noted in a flyer that they are in violation of the student code of conduct.
“Students and others do not have the right to occupy buildings, disrupt events and services that jeopardize the university’s mission, endanger the health and safety of its members, or suppress the speech of others,” the flyer reads. “The students and community members occupying the lobby and other spaces of Garland Hall are currently in contravention of these policies.”
According to the flyer, however, Garland will be open at 8 a.m. for three hours on both Saturday and Sunday to allow protesters to enter and exit as needed.
Protesters are able to enter and exit Garland even when the building is closed. Garland is closed on weekends from 6 p.m. on Friday to 7 a.m. on Monday, except during special University events.
“This accommodation is temporary and will be re-evaluated as needed to ensure health and safety, including throughout the weekend,” the flyer reads.
In an email to The News-Letter, Vice President for Communications Susan Ridge explained that although the University has taken steps to support protesters, they are still subject to the student code of conduct; health and safety requirements; and the Baltimore City fire code.
“The protest is a fluid situation, and we are continually monitoring and evaluating the ongoing event in Garland Hall and across the Homewood campus as health and safety remains the top priority in all decision-making,” she wrote.
Ridge added that many of the protesters have been made aware of the fact that they are in violation of these two codes.
“We have regularly communicated these requirements and expectations to the protesters verbally and in writing.”
Sophomore Gabe Silveira has been participating in the sit-in since the second day and affirmed that he will continue to organize with SAPP and HCAI.
While he praised the demonstrators for fostering a learning environment, he criticized the administration’s response to the protest.
“In reality they are just putting on more and more restrictions and trying to drown out the movement. Yet they’re still trying to put up this facade that they encourage protesting and that they’re doing their best to help us out here when in reality all we want to do is talk to President Ron Daniels or Provost Kumar, and they refuse to talk to us,” he said.
Dre Fraser, a graduate student in the sociology department who is a member of SAPP, also criticized the University’s response, stressing protesters’ desire to foster community in Baltimore.
“The University has been claiming that they’re enforcing a lot of policies to keep us safe when we’re telling them that their policies don’t keep us safe,” they said. “We are a community here... We want to make sure that our neighbors can come in and be a part of this so we decided to disobey their orders.”
Since the beginning of the sit-in, the protesters have organized events to accompany their sit-in. For example, they recently held Community Care Weekend.
This event included a barbecue on Saturday at Garland Hall. Because the protesters grilled hot dogs and burgers in front of Garland, the University issued a notice regarding open flame cooking.
“Any on campus event that includes an open flame must be conducted by an officially recognized student organization and obtain approval from the Office of the Dean of Student Life,” the notice reads.
Ridge reiterated that the University has been recording students’ violations.
“We have made clear that we are documenting the violations that have occurred across campus, and those who violate the law and/or code of conduct may face further action,” she wrote.
Sophomore Celeste O’Connor, who is a member of SAPP, spoke on behalf of protesters, reiterating their goals and highlighting protesters’ flexibility.
“Our goal was to invite members of the Baltimore community and also members of the Hopkins community over here, mostly to celebrate the work we’ve done so far and to build trust and build community with the people that are here struggling with us,” she said.
O’Connor added that protesters are still assessing their next steps.
“We have just been rolling with the punches and figuring things out as we go.”
Jae Choi and Meagan Peoples contributed reporting.