By Alyssa Foley
A few alumni were told to leave campus by the university president and campus police chief for handing out a petition to the board of directors.
In part of the video, the alumni can be seen greeting a board member as he walks through the door before the Oct. 27 board meeting. They hand him a package and say, “This is from the alumni.”
“Oh, thank you,” replies the board member. He continues walking past the alumni into the boardroom in Mallory. Later in the video, university staff can be seen physically blocking the alumni from handing packets to board members as they walk in. The staff escort the board members away from the alumni.
The video shows the group being asked to leave multiple times by university President Robert Ivany and campus Police Chief James Tate. Tate tells one of the alumni, Mary Malone, “You have to leave now, unless you want to be placed under arrest for trespassing.”
“After all these years and two degrees, you’re kicking me off the property?” asks Malone.
“Yes, for what you’re doing,” says Ivany.
“For trying to communicate directly with the board members?” asks Malone.
“Correct, yes.” replies Ivany.
When Malone asks what’s wrong with communicating directly with board members, Ivany said that he is not willing to discuss it. Malone states in the video that she has asked the Board Chair Herbert Edmundson to share their petition with the board and he refused.
“I’m sorry, you’ll have to find another way then,” says Ivany.
“This is our other way,” says Malone.
“But this is private property,” says Tate, “we have the option to say ‘leave’ if that’s what we need to do…I’m asking you leave the area, this building…” Ivany says they are free to hand literature out from the street.
The beginning of the YouTube video is audio only, and Malone can be heard telling someone, “We’re not disrupting this meeting. The meeting has not started yet.”
“Once the board meeting starts, you’re going to leave, right?” someone asks.
“Of course, of course…we will not disrupt the board meeting at all,” replies Malone.
Hours before the video was posted, Chief Tate confirmed with UST Underground that he was present at the incident and that President Ivany asked the alumni to leave for disrupting a meeting. When they did not leave, Tate said he asked them himself. He added that, “They were nice, no one was upset.”
Since it was a verbal warning and they complied, Tate said he did not write a police report on the incident. He explained that only if someone was warned in writing not to come back or arrested for trespassing would a trespassing incident be recorded in the campus daily crime log.
The alumni are upset that there is no Basilian candidate for university president. They started a petition two weeks ago on Change.org asking that the presidential search committee reconsider their finalist decision. The petition has since received 427 signatures, just shy of their goal of 500 signatures.
The only candidate nominated by the Basilian fathers for the presidency, Father Anthony Giampietro, was not selected as a finalist in the presidential search. This means he was did not make it to the stage where he would have been invited for an on-campus interview.
The petition says, “We do not understand why this has happened. We find this particularly troubling in light of the University’s current financial difficulties and the faculty vote of No Confidence in the current president last spring.”
The petition asks that Father Giampietro be considered a finalist and brought to campus for interviews, and it’s addressed to the Catholic Archbishop of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, who sits on the university board of directors.