On April 25, 2011, President James Wagner and administration officials at Emory University chose to have seven students arrested for their participation in non-violent dissent. The students were sitting peacefully inside a tent in song and prayer. Their cause? To initiate community dialogues and find solutions to the University's unjust labor contracting policies. Nearly one year later, Emory and DeKalb County are moving forward with the criminal prosecution against the students, who have become known as the "Emory Seven." The Emory Seven are scheduled to be arraigned at the DeKalb County Courthouse on April 12, 2012. A "Calendar Call" date of June 4th will determine if and when a trial will take place. The administration has offered to drop the criminal charges on two conditions: that the arrested students sign a legal agreement that would 1) bind them to unspecified "Emory policies," while Emory has yet to develop policies regarding protest and dissent on campus and 2) prevent them from seeking legal recourse for any violations of their rights that resulted from Emory's actions on the day of the arrest. The students decided collectively that relinquishing their rights was unreasonable given the nature of the arrest and declined the offer. However, the students expressed interest in continuing negotiations if President Wagner would consider establishing a "permanent President's Commission on Class and Labor on par with the other three established commissions" and "eliminate additional transportation and parking costs incurred by contracted employees." He refused. The administration's use of police force and criminal prosecution in response to non-violent dissent are serious offenses to Emory's core values and ethical mission. Therefore, (as alumni of Emory University) we urge President Wagner to 1) immediately drop the charges against the Emory Seven by working collaboratively with the DeKalb County prosecutor, 2) commit to adhering to an ethical code in which the administration will refrain from using police force and prosecution in response to non-violent dissent in the future, and 3) address the actual issues of labor contracting practices at Emory to ensure that all employees, regardless of their direct employer, are treated as equal members in the campus community.
As alumni with a strong investment in social justice work that was cultivated and/or buttressed through our educational experience at Emory, it is important to us that our alma mater remain a place "where courageous inquiry leads."
The Emory Seven are:
Laura Emiko Soltis, Graduate Student, Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts, Institute of Human Rights
Joseph Diaz, Graduate Student, Philosophy
Andrea Nicholls, 2011 Graduate of School of Public Health
Roger Sikes, Graduate Student, School of Public Health
Amariah Love, Georgia State University
Christopher Wells, Georgia State University
Mike Iannacone, Georgia Tech Graduate Student
Concerned Alumni of Emory University
Brittney C. Cooper, Ph.D., 2009
Shawntel R. Hebert, Esq., Emory 07L
Elizabeth Simoneau, Ph.D., 2011
Aida Hussen, Ph.D., 2009
Molly McGehee, Ph.D., 2007
Worth K. Hayes, Ph.D., 2010
Aukje Kluge, Ph.D., MPH, 2009
Keisha S. Haywood, Ph.D., 2009
Yolanda Manora, Ph.D., 2002
Susana Morris, Ph.D., 2007
Rhea L. Combs, Ph.D., 2009
Ashon Crawley, Th.M., 2007
Tamura Lomax, Ph.D., Th.M (Emory 2005)
Samuel "Zeb" Baker, Ph.D., 2009
All other supporters are encouraged to sign, whether Emory affiliated or not.
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