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Volume 68, Issue 49, Friday, November 1, 2002

News
 

Planned peace rally causes conflicts

By Kristen Young
The Daily Cougar

A peace rally scheduled for Monday has thrown a bone of contention between a coalition of student organizations and the UH administration.

On Thursday afternoon, administrators denied Students United for Peace's appeal that the usual time allotted for amplified sound be extended for the rally, which will be held in Lynn Eusan Park.

Students plan to meet this morning with Vice President for Student Affairs Elwyn Lee to appeal the decision again.

The policy from which SUP wants an exception comes from the Manual of Administrative Policies and Procedures' section on freedom of expression, which states, "Amplified sound is limited at (sic) outdoor expressive activity site between the hours of 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to midnight on class days."

The rally is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and SUP wants to use amplified sound until 2:30.

An exception to the policy has never before been granted, said Dean of Students William Munson, who made the original decision not to grant an exception.

The MAPP states that an exception to the freedom of expression policies can be considered "on the basis of the size of audience expected ... the number of organizations sponsoring a proposed expressive activity, the potential for the proposed expressive activity to conflict with previously scheduled activities and events and extenuating time constraints."

The document also highly recommends "that requests for exceptions to this policy be submitted in writing to the Dean of Students at least 15 business days in advance of the proposed expressive activity."

Two members of SUP met with Munson and Associate Dean of Students Kamran Riaz on Friday only six business days before the event to discuss the matter. Their request was first denied Monday, and SUP promptly appealed. 

In the original plea, students cited the number of student groups associated with SUP more than a dozen now and an "extenuating time constraint" because of the number of people involved in presentations during the rally as the basis for the need for an extension.

"(We are trying to) pack speeches, poetry readings, skits and other presentations from all the participating organizations into the normal hour-and-a-half provided for amplified sound," said Tresha Charles, president of the Black Student Union, in a written statement to The Daily Cougar.

"We are certain that the rally ... will be a success," Charles said. "However, certain parties are determined to ensure otherwise."

SUP has also met resistance from members of the student body. Signs hung in the University Center announcing the rally have been vandalized on three occasions.

A banner was found ripped Tuesday morning, and later that afternoon, Director of Campus Activities Zack Coapland witnessed a student who said he was "for the war" ripping the same banner. Thursday morning, Coapland found another vandalized peace rally sign.

"It's unfortunate that this would even become a need," he said. "We just can't have someone watching these posters 24/7."

 Send comments to dcnews@mail.uh.edu

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