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Access Denied!: CCNY Professor Arrested for Entering Baruch College

Hank Williams Jun 30, 2004

Bill Crain, a psychology professor at City College of New York, was arrested on June 23 by Baruch College security officers for trying to enter its main building. He was charged with criminal trespass resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Crain agreed to accept lesser charges and was released early the next day.

Baruch and City College are both part of the City University of New York. Most CUNY campuses are open but Baruch and Hostos Community College in the Bronx have deemed themselves “closed.” Visitors from other CUNY schools are not allowed entry except to visit libraries or to visit specific offices. “CUNY proclaims itself to be an integrated university,” Crain said. “If so, it also should be an open university. Students and faculty should be able to move freely about all of its campuses.”

To draw attention to the issue, Crain and four other CUNY faculty members decided to test Baruch’s policy. When denied entrance, Crain went under the turnstile and was arrested. Crain denies resisting arrest.

Crain’s arrest drew attention to what many say is a consistent pattern of excessive force by CUNY security officers. “The recent incidents involving the arrest of Bill Crain and a Hostos student, Miguel Malo, are only two instances of a pattern of CUNY security officers violating the constitutional rights of students and faculty,” Ron McGuire, an attorney who heads the Student Activist Legal Defense Project, said.

Malo was charged with felonious assault of a police officer after his arrest for holding up a sign protesting cuts to ESL classes.

Last year, security officers at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College pepper sprayed parents at a graduation ceremony who they claimed were unruly. Student activists at City College have complained of harassment, including the planting of a hidden security camera outside a student center.

Hank Williams, a doctoral student in English at the CUNY Graduate Center, teaches writing at City College, and is a member of the Student Liberation Action Movement.