Protesters should face their charges

Daily Editorial Board

University of Minnesota faculty and staff members have signed a petition calling for the school to cancel student conduct code charges it made against 13 students who held a demonstration in President Eric Kaler’s office in February, the Minnesota Daily reported last week.
 
The students are part of the group Whose Diversity? — an unofficial student group that promotes more diversity at the University. Group members occupied Kaler’s office earlier this year as part of a protest, and police arrested them when they stayed in the building after normal operating hours.
Now, group members will likely appear later this year in front of the Student Behavior Committee, which will determine whether to charge them. 
 
Faculty members who signed the petition said choosing to charge the students would endanger willingness to engage in free speech on campus. Political science professor and co-author of the petition Teri Caraway said students should be able to be disruptive so they can voice their opinions.
 
We agree with Caraway’s sentiment that being disruptive is an important way to create change, especially among college students. However, we do not agree with her conclusion that Whose Diversity? should therefore not face a student conduct code violation. 
 
Using disruptive tactics to draw the public’s attention to a cause comes with the risk, and even the likelihood, that officials will take disciplinary action. Therefore, we commend Whose Diversity? for taking action, but we do not support holding them harmless simply because they took that action.