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UPDATE: Two More UNO Students Arrested Amidst Mid-Year Budget Cuts
by Nathan Tempey Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010 at 7:59 PM

Two more University of New Orleans students were arrested in connection with the September budget cut protest as Louisiana State University System officials prepared a swath of mid-year cuts, finalized Friday, that will scrape funds from an already-chiseled budget.

Two more University of New Orleans students were arrested in connection with the September budget cut protest as Louisiana State University System officials prepared a swath of mid-year cuts, finalized Friday, that will scrape funds from an already-chiseled budget.

Police arrested Nathaniel Faulk and Dymphna Franklin, both 19, in the first week of October, bringing the total arrested students to five. The latest arrests came over a month after the UNO protest where campus police arrested two student, pepper-spraying one, accusing both of attacking police officers. Over three weeks later, New Orleans police, including members of the SWAT team, arrested UNO senior Dylan Barr at his home.

Faulk and Franklin were arrested the week of October 7, the National Day of Action to Defend Higher Education.

“This is what I pay for?” Franklin said to the hundred-strong amphitheater crowd moments after the administration building march turned violent. “I didn’t pay to get maced, I didn’t pay to get punched in the face like a poor mess, I didn’t pay for this. I paid tuition to go to a school and get an education by people who care!”

Franklin is charged with two misdemeanors, including battery of a police officer which can carry jail time.

Faulk faces charges similar to Barr’s, but while the District Attorney’s Office did not accept Barr’s felony charge, prosecutors are proceeding against Faulk on the assisting escape charge, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years. Faulk and Barr are also charged with battery of a police officer.

All arrestees except Barr were released on their own recognizance.

In that time, the Louisiana Board of Regents prepared plans for cuts of nearly $35 million to help balance to a $106 million shortfall in state revenue for the last fiscal year. The cuts, finalized by executive order Friday, will force $1,560,927 out of the UNO budget, pulling teeth from already-turning gears.

“We don’t need whining, we need leadership,” Governor Bobby Jindal said at a press conference Friday, just before flying to a Republican fundraiser in Pennsylvania.

The LSU System plan will withdraw 55 percent of UNO travel funds along with money for services including research resources, campus maintenance, software upgrades and supplies.

“It’s (UNO’s) turn for us to stand up and say ‘No, no, no, no, no,’” City Councilmember-at-Large Jackie Clarkson said at Thursday’s City Council meeting. “We want Baton Rouge out of all of our universities in this city.”

At the meeting, Provost Joe King re-hashed remarks from UNO's recent restructuring forum outlining UNO’s “programs of distinction.” He then thanked the council for its resolution that “(urges) the state to properly fund public higher education.”

Barr and another arrested student protester, Peter Reed, spoke after King.

“I want to point out that it’s not just a rosy picture over there these days,” Reed said. Reed cited growing class sizes, cut classes and cut majors including his, women and gender studies, as examples of barriers
to the four-year graduation King emphasized.

Barr said that cuts to his department, geography, would force him out of state for graduate school.

In his speech King did not mention the mid-year cuts, which he announced to students and faculty by e-mail an hour later.

“And we are expanding the prison and contracting the university?” Reed said. “I think this really needs to be taken into consideration.”

Reed and Barr did not mention the criminal charges against them at the meeting.

“The best thing for us to do is to come together and speak with one voice, and say to Baton Rouge… in no uncertain terms that the legislature and the governor’s office would be doing this state a tremendous disservice if we continue to cut education,” Councilman Jon Jonson said at the meeting, representing District E.

A protest planned for November 10 in Baton Rouge will likely draw students and teachers from public universities around the state. The budget cuts that now total over $300 million since 2008 --and the threat of an additional $432 million reduction planned for next year-- quietly galvanized Louisiana campuses in recent months. Four Louisiana public universities hosted events for the National Day of Action to Defend Higher Education and organizations have sprung up at several other schools in anticipation of the Baton Rouge rally.

LSU’s Student Government President J. Hudson drew the gaze of national media last week with letters to local newspapers around the country.

One such letter to The Keene(N.H.) Sentinel, the first to “go viral,” read, “Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is spending more time in your state than the one he was elected to represent. I read almost daily about his trips to other states, which makes me believe that he is more interested in running for president than running the state of Louisiana.”

Responding to such criticism, Jindal created a Facebook discussion page soliciting advice on how best to "deliver more value" in higher education.
Back in New Orleans, the five arrested protesters are unlikely to reach resolutions soon. Reed and Barr remain suspended. Matthew “Gideon” Smith, a graduate student charged with two counts of battering police officers and one count of resisting arrest, was trying to clear a financial hold in the days leading to his arrest and has not attended classes since.

Reed and Smith pled not guilty. However, an October 19 Louisiana Supreme Court decision will put their trials –both scheduled in the next two weeks-- on hold. The decision bars appointed commissioners from presiding over trials in magistrate (misdemeanor) court, a practice that prevailed in New Orleans for decades.

The courts have not yet re-allotted Smith's or Reed's trials or Barr's arraignment, also deferred because of the ruling.

A dispute between Chief Criminal District Court Judge Julian Parker and Sheriff Marlin Gusman –with Parker threatening to close the courthouse if Gusman removes door security– may further disrupt the processes. Faulk and Franklin’s arraignments will proceed Friday because of the intervention of District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and the mayor’s office to prevent a Wednesday courthouse closure.

Faulk and Franklin did not respond to e-mail requests for comment.

UNO campus police chief Thomas Harrington claimed at least one more protester attacked him during the administration building march on September 1 and escaped arrest. Police accuse all five arrested so far of battering Harrington.

Harrington declined to comment further on the protest after making contradictory statements about the events leading to the initial arrests.

The swath of state cuts will also excise funds from public schools, social services, healthcare, government administration, and the court and prison system.

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