UVA: Students Denied Access to Meeting Due to Lack of Seating - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA: Students Denied Access to Meeting Due to Lack of Seating

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Police in lobby of Harrison Institute Police in lobby of Harrison Institute
"'Hoos University" protesters attempting to attend the board of visitor's meeting "'Hoos University" protesters attempting to attend the board of visitor's meeting
UVA Spokesperson McGregor McCance UVA Spokesperson McGregor McCance

A group of University of Virginia students is fired up after being denied access to the UVA Board of Visitors meeting on Thursday. The students feel the university stepped on their legal rights to attend a public meeting. 

On Thursday, a student group calling themselves "Hoos University" attempted to attend the board of visitor's public meeting at the Harrison Institute to share their concerns.  They say the university has not been transparent about why President Teresa Sullivan was fired in June, and then later reinstated.     

When the students got to the door of the building, police officers were blocking the entrance and board members would not let them in.   UVA officials told students there were not enough seats for them to attend the meeting.  UVA Associate Dean of Students Francis Laushway read students a written statement saying they could be expelled from the university if they did not leave the lobby of the building.

Section 2.36 of the board of visitor's manual states that all open sessions must be open to the public.  Eventually only six students were allowed into the public meeting because there were only six open chairs.    

Friday the spokesperson for the university, McGregor McCance, said the students were not allowed in the room because there were not enough seats.    

"We had limited seating for the public meeting and we invited the number of seats available to the students, to the protesters, to come into the meeting," he stated. 

When students asked if they could stand, university officials said no.

Friday we took a closer look at the meeting room and the maximum capacity is 307.  On Thursday there were fewer than 50 people at the public meeting.  Although there were not enough seats for the students, according to the maximum capacity of 307, there was still room for more than five times the amount of people that were already in the meeting.    

According to McCance, police said the students waiting in the building's entrance was a fire hazard.  However, students were not allowed past that entrance.  He explains this is why students were threatened with expulsion if they did not leave.   

McCance further said there is no written rule that meeting attendees must have a chair to attend a meeting, but that they are advised upon arrival that the seating has filled up.   

One UVA student, Michael Dunn, says he did not protest but it does not mean he is not upset. "They should have least of let it get it to full capacity and then they could have at least had a legitimate excuse," he stated.

One protester, Laura Goldblatt, says the "Hoos University" group is not slowing down.  She says they are planning a forum and trying to get administrators to come to them this time.  

"The founder of the university was Jefferson, it is incredibly ironic that we were prevented from entering a building that houses a copy of the Declaration of Independence," she said.  

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