Brown to Form Committee for Reviewing Actions That Shut down Commissioner's Speech (UPDATE)


Christina Paxson, Brown University president has announced that a new committee will look into the misconduct that led NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly off the stage at the Providence, R.I. School.

In a letter released Wednesday, Paxson said that the committee will comprise of five faculty members, two undergrads and one graduate student. Apart from reviewing the actions that led to the cancellation of the event, the committee will also decide if students who protested be punished.

"Brown hosts controversial speakers on a regular basis," Paxson wrote in the letter. "Clearly, something went awry in the planning and oversight of this particular lecture. There is a need to establish the simple facts of what happened and why, so that this kind of episode does not recur."

Kelly was preparing to talk on a lecture entitled 'Proactive Policing in America's Biggest City,' in front of the Ivy Leaguers on Oct. 29, when about 100 protesting students disrupted his speech. The commissioner couldn't continue and left after a few minutes that ultimately resulted in the cancellation of the event.

Both Paxson and Brown Chancellor Thomas Tisch apologised to Kelly for the misbehaviour.

According to the Code of Student Conduct, protests that 'infringe upon' the free exchange of ideas are prohibited. "Halting a lecture, debate or any public forum is an unacceptable form of protest," the Code of Student Conduct states.

Paxson said that protests are tolerated as long as they occur under 'acceptable means.' But, stopping Kelly's lecture was unacceptable and a violation of the code of conduct, Brown Daily Herald, the campus newspaper, reports.

Marguerite Joutz '15, a leader of Brown Conversation told the Herald that she herself hasn't read the entire Code of Student Conduct and claims that most of the students haven't read it either.

Previously, Brown students have been disciplined for halting lectures. In 2008, a student was suspended for throwing a cream pie at New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

"To prevent similar episodes in the future - something we must do - these standards of conduct will be upheld and enforced," Paxson wrote, NY Daily News reports.

In a survey of undergraduate students conducted by the Herald, it was found that 73 percent of the respondents felt that protesters should not have booed off Kelly's speech.

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