The Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) chose Labor Day to hold a demonstration protesting the war in Iraq, a move College administrators say prevented them from being able to protest in front of Brower Student Center.
PSA President Christine Colonnese said an alternate location request form was submitted to Tim Asher, director of the Student Activities and Leadership Development office, asking to move the demonstration from Quimby’s Prairie to the lawn outside of the student center in hopes that more people would see the protest.
“I got a call on Friday night (Aug. 29) around 5 p.m. from the administration telling me our alternate location request form didn’t go through. They denied our request at the very last minute,” Colonnese said. “They were concerned about setting a precedent.”
Asher said he reviewed PSA’s request form with assistant vice president of Student Affairs Magda Manetas and Police Chief John Collins. The trio did not find a reason to move the protest from Quimby’s Prairie, which Asher said was the “designated area for approved demonstrations.”
Asher explained, “It was their choice to have it on Labor Day,” citing the closure of all office buildings and cancellation of classes as a reason not to have a protest on a national holiday.
According to Matthew Golden, executive director of Public Affairs and Communications, Quimby’s Prairie is designated for protests.
“All the protests get sent there,” he said. “If we were to allow (PSA) to protest (in front of the student center) it would cause a logistical problem over the year.”
Golden added that groups can make a special request to protest in front of the student center, but in general it is decided on a “case-by-case basis.”
Asher said PSA “self-selected the date,” and was told by PSA Labor Day was the best day for its members.
Asher and his colleagues did not find this a compelling enough reason to move the location.
As a result of the situation, Asher said he and Collins would review whether Quimby’s Prairie is the most ideal location for demonstrations.
“It has nothing to do with the content of the protest,” Golden said.
Despite the hitch, members of both PSA and the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action went on with the die-in.
Protesters dressed entirely in black and scattered themselves across the ground on Quimby’s Prairie, symbolizing those who have lost their lives fighting in Iraq.
“We’re hoping it will be striking and dramatic so that when people walk by they’ll get the effect of the scope of the damage done there (in Iraq), which is why it depends on having as many people as possible,” Adam Engel, treasurer of PSA, said.
The approximately 20 protesters on the ground affected at least one student who walked through the demonstration.
“It’s good to see people out trying to make a difference,” Jessica Dalpe, junior psychology major, said. “I’d like to see more publicity because I’m probably not going to go up to them and ask what they’re doing.”