Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Administration Speaks on the Telkia Burns Vigil

As Professor Pancho's earlier blog indicated, when more information regarding the administrative response to the proposed September 3 student vigil for Telkia Burns comes to light, it will be posted. Here are two e-mails, the first sent on August 29 by the Director of Student Activities to one of the organizers of the event. The second e-mail is one I sent Ms. Marsh this afternoon. I have yet to receive a response.

------ Original message ------
From: MaToya Marsh
Date: 8/29/2013 10:10
Subject:September 3rd Event

This email is in regard to the non approved event that you have scheduled for September 3, 2013. While I am sure that your intent was in good spirits, there are rules that must be followed when using University's grounds for events. As you know you must first submit a request on behalf of a club or organization to the Office of Student Activities who then submits it to the Office of Meeting and Events for final approval (minimum 10 business days). Without this approval you are not allowed to move forward with this event. Failure to adhere to this directive is a direct violation and will be forwarded to the Office of Judicial Affairs. If you have any questions feel free to contact me via email.

MaToya S. Marsh
Director of Student Activities & Student Leadership
Department of Student Activities
Chicago State University

Dear Ms. Marsh:

I am writing about the administrative decision to deny permission for students to hold a September 3 candlelight vigil on campus in memory of Telkia Burns. In your e-mail to one of the organizers of this event, you reference the necessity of following “rules . . . when using University’s grounds for events.” You continue by writing that any group wishing to use university grounds “must first submit a request on behalf of a club organization . . . for final approval (minimum 10 business days).” You then threaten the organizer with disciplinary action by writing “Failure to adhere to this directive is a direct violation and will be forwarded to the Office of Judicial Affairs.”

This e-mail raised a number of questions. First, which campus group served as the sponsor of the previously held commemoration for Telkia Burns? Second, given that his death occurred on August 25 and that the commemoration took place late last week (August 29 or 30 I believe), it seems that the 10-day requirement was not followed for that event. Is this the case? If so, why does the September 3 event apparently have to meet different criteria? In exigent circumstances may not the university waive the notification requirement? Finally, is it necessary to accompany this denial with the kind of threat you made in your penultimate sentence? Is that Judicial Affairs referral some kind of statutory requirement or does the Department of Student Activities possess some discretionary authority in that area?

Yours truly,

Robert E. Bionaz
Associate Professor of History
SCI 275

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