Letter: Statement Regarding the Violation of First Amendment Rights on IUB Campus

The following was sent to the Bloomingtonian:

For Immediate Release
Bloomington City Council-Member Sydney Zulich
April 29, 2024
Statement Regarding the Violation of First Amendment Rights on IUB
Campus
Due to a quick escalation of events, it has been difficult to verify specific information on
how events at Dunn Meadow have unfolded. The following is my current understanding
of the timeline and course of events, and thus what I will be responding to:*
After discovering a group of students’ plans to host a peaceful protest in Dunn Meadow,
President Whitten convened an ad hoc committee to change the procedure on what is
and is not allowed in Dunn, thus overturning 50+ years of precedent in both policy and
community norms. The administration then failed to alert students, faculty, and staff to
a policy change that took place less than 24 hours prior to the start of the protest. At this
point, both IUPD and State Police were deployed, resulting in the arrest of over 50
students, faculty, and staff. I am specifically referring to new rules that prevent tents
and other temporary or permanent structures from being constructed in the area at all
times, as opposed to the previous policy that only barred encampments from the hours
of 11 PM to 6 AM.
The 1969 policy is the following:
“Any sign, symbol or structure which is either (a) continually carried or (b) taken away
from 11:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m., may be used in the Assembly Ground, day or night, to
express any point of view on any subject, with or without advance notice, within the
limits of applicable laws or regulations.”
The new policy reads: “No unapproved temporary or permanent structures are
permitted, including but not limited to tents.”
After 50 years of precedent, it is impossible to look at this change as anything less than
blatant discrimination and an unacceptable violation of the first amendment. We do not
get to pick and choose the circumstances under which we uphold the Constitution of the
United States: a document that I swore to protect when I began my term as the
Bloomington City Council Representative of District 6. There is nothing more American
than the First Amendment. Nothing more American than Freedom of Speech and
Freedom of Assembly.
I believe that the minute a leader chooses to prioritize procedure over people, is the
same minute that leader has failed. President Whitten and her administration have not
only failed us in this regard, but have proven that they are willing to weaponize
procedures with the goal of targeting specific members of our IU community. I observed
over five hours of protesting this weekend, and saw no evidence of violence or weapons.
This was a peaceful protest.
I have been thinking a lot about civil disobedience recently. In my final thoughts, I want
to leave my community with a few quotes from historical leaders whom I admire:
“An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly
accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community
over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
“Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to
it.” – Howard Zinn
“It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.” – Aristotle
“It was civil disobedience that won them their civil rights.” – Tariq Ali
District 6, it is the honor of a lifetime to represent you. I am so proud and humbled to
represent a people that are willing to sacrifice so much to stand up for what they believe
in. A people that have remained peaceful in the face of violence. My only hope is that I
can lead in a way that will make you as proud of me, as I am of you.
With Love,
Council-Member Sydney Zulich
*Please reach out to me at [email protected] if you have more
information or if you need legal aid, emergency housing, or any other assistance that I
may be able to provide.

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