TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Three of the University of Arizona students at the center of an incident involving Border Patrol agents will face criminal charges, according to the school.
In a letter to the UA community, President Robert C. Robbins said the students will face a misdemeanor charge of interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution.
The University of Arizona Police Department is still investigating to find out if the students committed others crimes while the Office of the Dean of Students is “reviewing potential violations of the student code of conduct.”
On Wednesday, April 10, a group calling itself the Coalition For #TheArizona3 delivered a letter to Robbins’ office demanding the charges be dropped and the investigation end. The group also wants the school to take threats made against the students to be taken seriously.
“We want the safety of our student body, particularly its most vulnerable members to be taken seriously by our administration," the group said in a Facebook post. “To protect the Arizona 3 we are not using the language of protest; we are emphasizing that the students ‘spoke out’ or ‘denounced’ the presence of Border Patrol."
The group claimed to be a collection of grad students, faculty, staff and concerned community members. P
Robbins has said the school is looking into the actions of its employees without specifying who or what is being investigated.
The federal agents were on campus Tuesday, March 19 to speak to criminal justice students during a career day event.
A student interrupted the event and recorded videos of the encounter. The clips show she followed the agents out of the classroom and to their car while she and others chanted “murder patrol.”
The student can be heard comparing Border Patrol agents to the KKK.
“They allow murders on campus, where I pay to be,” she said. “This is supposed to be a safe space for students, but they allow an extension of the KKK into campus.”
Art Del Cueto, head of the local chapter of the National Border Patrol Council, had called on the university to investigate the students.
Dr. Robbin’s full letter can be read below.
Dear Campus Community,
I want to update you on developments regarding last week’s incident with the Border Patrol officers on campus and to reaffirm the University of Arizona’s relationship with the leadership and the women and men serving in U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The incident between the protesting students and the Criminal Justice club members was a dramatic departure from our expectations of respectful behavior and support for free speech on this campus.
University police determined today they will be charging two of the students with interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution, a misdemeanor.
The UA Police Department will continue to investigate the incident for additional criminal violations, and the Office of the Dean of Students is reviewing potential violations of the student code of conduct. There also will be a probe into actions involving UA employees.
The University has policies and protocols for behavior and expression, and we are following those. However, I have assigned university staff to examine our processes to ensure we are working effectively to help prevent similar incidents in the future while maintaining the 1st Amendment right to free speech and protest.
At the core of these inquiries is the University of Arizona’s commitment to free speech. The student club and the CBP officers invited by the students should have been able to hold their meeting without disruption. Student protest is protected by our support for free speech, but disruption is not.
As a community of scholars, we need to be more thoughtful and deliberative in how we approach these issues and work together to sustain vigorous conversations to find better solutions.
Robert C. Robbins President The University of Arizona