Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Prospective Students Beware; Wayne Watson stop abusing your power

Great publicity this morning in the Sun Times one day before CSU graduates a number of students. All the preening onstage and the puffed up sloganeering that will go on for hours tomorrow about CSU's greatness under the leadership of Wayne Watson, irritating for most of us in past years, is going to be particularly disgusting this year. Jokari Miller, a student who was goaded into a verbal exchange with Wayne Watson by Watson himself, for wearing a freaking baseball hat inside the library at the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday that ended with Miller being held in a chokehold, charged with disorderly conduct, and jailed, is facing criminal charges and today has to put up with the indignity of a judicial hearing at CSU's own kangaroo court. He may not be able to graduate from our august institution tomorrow.

I can take Watson's and Interim Provost Henderson's hate speech against the white/atheist/communist faculty "who can't get jobs anywhere else." I can take their contempt for us, but their extreme reactions to African American students who cross them the wrong way is another thing. In the long list of Watson's abuse of his power as president of CSU, this is the most disgusting example. And of course he is supported by that craven disgraceful "board of trustees." And look at who he and Henderson pick on. If what happened to Miller happened to my white sister's white kid, even if the white kid were in his 20s or 30s, she would be in that President's Office with a lawyer on Monday morning with a lawsuit already filed. But my white sister has the resources to do this. Willie Preston and Jokari Miller both had to scramble to get their bail money. Bravo Wayne. Well done Mr Educator of the Year.

And yeah, you're right Dr Watson, we white faculty "got ours." But so did you and your porsche-driving friends.

Good way to teach our students on the eve of graduation: no opposition to presidential will will be brooked. Criminalize the students. The pipeline to prison begins at graduation or the day before.

Check out what the Sun Times has to say about us today.

Sam Charles, Sun Times Breaking News/Voices
May 13, 2014 8:25 pm
Suit: Chicago State administration tried to silence students critical of university

A current Chicago State University student and another who was expelled are suing the university, alleging that after they spoke out against the school and its practices, the administration used “authoritarian” of tactics to silence them and quash any influence they had at the university.

The suit, filed Monday in federal court by Willie Preston and Brittany Bailey, stated that as the two were members of the university’s Student Government Association, they were critical of the university’s administration. The university, they allege, responded by “invalidating” student government elections, suppressing the editorial freedom of and later eliminating the university’s student newspaper and orchestrating a series of unsubstantiated claims to discredit the two, which eventually resulted in Preston’s expulsion and criminal prosecution.

The named defendants included the university’s board of trustees, President Wayne Watson, Interim Provost Angela Henderson, Vice President of Labor and Legal Affairs Patrick Cage, Director of Student Activities and Student Leadership MaToya Marsh and Chicago State University Police Chief Ronnie Watson.

“Plaintiffs were active members of the student government at CSU who spoke out against what they viewed as the autocratic and corrupt practices of several powerful and politically connected members of the CSU administration,” the suit stated.

A spokesman for the university said the allegations have no merit.

“[The complaint] can best be described as categorically untrue,” said Tom Wogan, the university’s director of public relations. “We will allow the judicial process to play out and we’re very confident the university will be vindicated.”

Bailey and Preston began attending CSU in 2010 and have since married, the suit stated.
In the fall 2012 semester, the Student Government Association held elections for several positions, including 25 Senator positions and one Illinois Board of Higher Education Representative position, the suit stated. In September 2012, Preston and Bailey were elected to IBHE Representative and SGA Senator, respectively.

In his role as representative, Preston would be part of university-wide committees, including the budget and tuition and fees committees, the suit stated.

In the spring 2013 semester, Bailey ran for SGA president while Preston ran for Student Trustee, both on a platform of reducing administration corruption, the suit said.

Preston pledged to propose a motion to the Board of Trustees to remove Watson as university president, the suit stated. Bailey also said she would work toward removing Watson from his position.
According to the suit, Marsh — who also served on the university’s Board of Elections — continuously directed students not to vote for Preston and Bailey, instead encouraging them to support three other candidates “who were not political opponents of President Watson.”

On May 1, the first day of voting, one of the three candidates Marsh supported tried to punch Preston. Preston ducked out of the way, but was still suspended from classes and student activities for the upcoming semester, the suit stated. The student who tried to punch him was not disciplined.

Both Bailey and Preston were elected to their desired positions “by an overwhelming majority,” however the Board of Elections “invalidated” the election results on the basis that Marsh had inappropriately interfered with the election, the suit stated.

“So, rather than act to stop Ms. Marsh’s interference while it was happening, the Board of Elections waited until the candidates [the] Defendants favored had lost, and then used Ms. Marsh’s interference against [the] Plaintiffs,” the suit stated.

On Oct. 11, 2013, while serving his suspension, Preston met with the interim director of judicial affairs, who told him that while he could not attend classes, he was still allowed on campus, the suit stated. However, the suit claims a meeting was scheduled for later that day in the presidential chambers to potentially change university rules that would prohibit Preston from being on campus while he was suspended.

Three days later, Preston went to the Cordell Reed Student Union building while an open house for prospective students was being held, the suit stated. After he walked in, he was approached by university officials who told him he had to report to the interim director of judicial affairs. The director informed him that he was no longer allowed on campus because several students allegedly felt threatened by him.

All the students were provided incentives — including scholarships — to complain about Preston, the suit stated.

Less than a week later, Preston was invited to attend a meeting at the CSU’s campus library held by the Illinois Board of Higher Education faculty advisory committee. During the question and answer session, Preston said that he was among many students who believed that members of the administration, including President Watson and Interim Provost Henderson, were engaged in corrupt practices, the suit stated.

Henderson followed him out of the meeting and tried to speak with him, and as Preston left the building, he was arrested by CSU’s campus police and detained at the station for three hours, the suit stated. An officer told Preston that the police showed up because someone called and said he was disrupting the meeting.

Henderson later said she called Police Chief Ronnie Watson directly, the suit said. A trespassing charge was filed against Preston, but it was later dismissed.
“While he was detained, Mr. Preston denied Chief of Police Ronnie Watson’s allegation that he had threatened the Interim Provost,” the suit stated.

On Oct. 23, Henderson filed a petition for, and was later granted, a restraining order against Preston, the suit said.

“Dr. Henderson’s purpose in obtaining the restraining order was to retaliate against Mr. Preston for his speech and ensure he would not be engaging in speech critical of her or President Watson on campus or in her presence,” the suit stated.

Five days later, Preston’s expulsion hearing was held, and a witness for Preston who was present when he allegedly threatened Henderson was not allowed to testify, the suit stated.

During her testimony, Henderson called Preston an “American terrorist.” She added that she was afraid to come to work and that she felt Preston was “prepared to engage in ‘murderous’ activity,” the suit said.

On Nov. 14, Preston was expelled from CSU, but he was never given the meeting’s minutes or told who he could file an appeal with, the suit stated.

Four months later, Preston attended a public meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees. He was arrested for stalking Henderson and violating her no-contact order, despite the fact that she was not present at the meeting, the suit said.

The seven-count suit alleges First and Fourteenth Amendment deprivation, retaliation, deprivation of due process, violations of the Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, violations of the Illinois College Campus Press Act, violations of the Illinois State and Chicago State universities law and breach of contract. They’re seeking an undisclosed amount in damages.

Preston and Bailey are seeking Preston’s reinstatement at CSU and both of them to be appointed to the student trustee position for one year. They are also seeking Bailey’s appointment as SGA President for one year, the reestablishment of an uncensored, student-run newspaper and the reversal and dismissal of all charges against the two.

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