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Seven Students Arrested at Emory during Tent City Stand-off

(APN) DEKALB COUNTY -- Seven students were arrested during a stand-off with the Emory University administration tonight, Monday, April 25, 2011, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

Last week, APN reported that 150 students protested at Emory regarding its contract with Sodexo to operate its cafeterias.  During that protest, two dozen students occupied the Administration Building, but they left the building after being threatened with arrest and after being promised a meeting with the University's President.

That meeting, which took place the following day at 5pm, was not fruitful, Alex Zavell, 20, an Emory sophomore majoring in Political Science, told APN in an interview. 

The University insists it undertook an investigation of students' claims that Sodexo was mistreating cafeteria workers on Emory's campus and found no evidence of any problem, Zavell said.  Yet, Zavell insists that University has failed to even hear what the problems are and has not explained what its so-called investigation consisted of.

Since the protest last week, the students erected a Tent City on the University quad outside the Administration building.

"At 630pm, students who were a part of the Tent City we set up on Wednesday and maintained constant peaceful presence... the Vice President came and delivered a notice of policy of the quad that said there needed to be a reservation if there needed to be events," Zavell said.

"A lawyer for our group looked at it and said the language of the policy did not apply to what we're doing," Zavell said.

"The Administration forcibly removed tents and signs.  The grounds crew ordered by the Administration were told to start removing tents," Zavell said.

"In response, three tents were placed in a tight circle and students sat in them.  Police backed off for about a half hour," Zavell said.

"John Ford, at that point came and told students they would be arrested if they remained in the tent," Zavell said.

"After which, the Emory police and Dekalb police came and arrested seven students who were sitting in the tent," Zavell said.

According to Zavell, the seven students are: Laura Emiko Soltis, an Emory fifth year graduate student in interdisciplinary studies; Roger Sikes, Emory second year graduate student in Public Health; Andrea Nicholls, Emory second year graduate student in Public Health; Joseph Diaz, Emory first year graduate student in Philosophy; Christopher Wells, undergraduate studying Film at Georgia State University; Amariah Love, an undergraduate studying Women's Studies at GSU; and Michael Iannocone, a graduate student from Georgia Tech in Computer Science.

"The Administration has consistently evaded dialogue, refused to acknowledge the existence of the problem on our campus, and responded with force in the face of peaceful student protest," Zavell said.

"I believe these actions fly in the face of Emory's mission statement and student values to create knowledge in the service of humanity, social responsibility, courageous inquiry, and ethical engagement," Zavell said.

The students were arrested at about 8pm, and Zavell said he believed the charges were for criminal trespassing, based on threats made by Administration prior to the arrests.

"Students were handcuffed with zip-tie handcuffs and dragged out by police officers," Zavell said.

(END / 2011)

Comments (14)

Said this on 4-25-2011 At 10:13 pm

It seems Emory's responses have been a tad vigilante. The police removed advertisements by Students and Workers in Solidarity outside of campus policy, has not enacted their own promises to correct all grievous breaches of policy (underpaying and coercion against organization) given the distinct evidence of several workers themselves, who braved threats of firing to testify time and again, and has now misapplied the quad event policy. Somehow I think SWS will continue to act within all campus policy and general laws no matter how creative Emory's law enforcement and administration get within their interpretations of their own rules.

Said this on 4-25-2011 At 10:43 pm

Criminal tresspassing on a public space that is communal??? Nonsense!

Said this on 4-27-2011 At 05:40 am

Nonsense? Not in the U.S.A., which, many years ago, someone tried to tell me was the land of the free. Heh.

Said this on 4-25-2011 At 10:54 pm
Said this on 4-25-2011 At 11:34 pm

this is ridiculous that the administration would drop to such low levels. we are protesting for workers rights, rights that they should have already anyways. access to hr services, MARTA cards, health insurance and retirement plans. all of these things are given to all of the directly employeed workers. what sws is trying to do is to get emory to cut the contract with Sodexo.

Jorge A Lawton
Said this on 4-25-2011 At 11:50 pm








Said this on 4-26-2011 At 12:04 am

They are being taken to Dekalb County Jail according to this article:

Said this on 4-26-2011 At 12:07 am

Unfortunately for these students, they were camped on PRIVATE property.  Emory University holds the right to control any and all events which occur on their quadrangle.

Said this on 4-26-2011 At 12:17 am

Unfortunately for the students, they chose to protest on PRIVATE property.  Emory University reserves the exclusive right to call law enforcement if any of their policies are violated.


Plain and simple.

Said this on 4-26-2011 At 12:28 am

Bobby, these were Emory students on their own campus. No one is saying that the actions of Emory were illegal, they were just extremely irresponsible and in contradiction with every one of the University's principles, values, and mission.

Said this on 4-26-2011 At 08:36 am

Other than students getting arrested, what else were the results of this protest?  In the YouTube videos, I didn't see that many people like they reported in this article.  Apart from the tent city, is it unlawful for students to walk about exercising their freedom of speech?  Lots of media attention is what is needed.  Is Emory making changes yet?  Perhaps the law graduate students should be involved.  They're about to be leaving campus soon anyhow.

Said this on 4-26-2011 At 08:53 am
Rochelle Carothers
Said this on 4-28-2011 At 11:57 am

Risible that Emory or anyone else does not listen to their cafeteria employees and WANT  to pay them the wage and time to 'wash their hands'? How do you expect good care from your employees when you pay them not well to care for themselves. Hospitality as healthcare has mostly caring people, taken advantage of 'b/c its not just the money'!Mutual respect has each and all taking care of each other. These big food deliver/prepare are wastefully structured so their products are maximally used.

Said this on 5-16-2011 At 09:10 pm


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