A pretrial hearing was held Thursday for six University of Minnesota students who were arrested for interrupting a Board of Regents meeting last spring.
The hearing at the Hennepin County Government Center offered deals to the students, who were arrested in June. A group of about 30 disrupted the meeting last spring in protest of proposed tuition increases. The Board of Regents later approved the tuition hike.
On Thursday, the six students rejected deals offered to them to avoid trial, which included community service and potential jail time.
About 30 University students came to the pre-trial to show support for their classmates.
Elena Gambino, a political science graduate student who attended the hearing, said she was in attendance to stand up for the right to protest decisions made by University of Minnesota leaders.
“The bar for criminalizing students is far too low,” she said. “They were peaceful. … we stand behind them. We deserve a conversation.”
Another graduate student in attendance, Farrah Tek, said she feels peaceful dissent is suppressed on campus.
“What’s unfair is the level of punishment,” she said. “There are larger issues on campus.”
Marty Branyon, a member of Students for a Democratic Society and history senior, was also in attendance to support his friend Max Franz, who was arrested during the protest.
“The University doesn’t give us legit ways to dissent,” he said. “They don’t give a way to actually have our voices be heard.”
Civil rights attorney Jordan Kushner is representing the students when they go to trial this December.
Kushner was also arrested at the University last November for filming police officers during a different protest on campus.