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Student Protests End in New York, Massachusetts

May 5, 1989

Undated (AP) _ Student demonstrators in New York ended 11 days of protests today and calm was restored at the University of Massachusetts, where 102 protesters have been arrested in the past two weeks.

Police on Thursday used wheelchairs to arrest 32 Massachusetts students after a 20-hour occupation of a dean’s office in a science building to protest Defense Department-funded research at the 25,000-student campus.

Three more students were taken into custody outside, including two who allegedly tried to block buses carrying protesters to the football stadium. The arrests brought the two-week total at the Amherst campus to 102.

At the City University of New York, students who had occupied buildings on several campuses accepted an amnesty offer and ended their protests this morning, although demonstrations at two colleges lingered.

″I think it’s over,″ said CUNY spokeswoman Rita Rodin.

The protests over proposed tuition increases and budget cuts began 11 days ago and spread to several campuses of the state-run university system.

Elsewhere, teaching and research assistants at the University of California-Berkeley ended a two-day strike on Thursday, claiming they had won overwhelming support from students.

In Atlanta, a group hoping to pressure Mercer University trustees to keep open the school’s College of Arts and Sciences ended a 24-hour ″read-in″ Thursday and launched a daylong prayer vigil. Trustees voted to close the college June 30, 1990.

In Middlebury, Vt., several hundred students protested tuition increases at Middlebury College, but the school’s president said the demonstration was unlikely to stop plans to increase tuition to $19,000 a year, from $17,000 this year.

Students carried placards and chanted slogans on Thursday to protest the increase, which includes tuition, room and board.

″This is not just a Middlebury College problem,″ said David Milner, a junior and one of the protest organizers. He said students at other private schools are facing average 7 percent increases.

Students at the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts chanted ″Money for tuition, not ammunition,″ and demanded the university halt its nearly $12 million worth of unclassified research for the Defense Department.

Shortly before noon, campus police used wheelchairs to wheel the protesters out of a suite of offices belonging to Samuel F. Conti, vice chancellor of research and dean of the graduate school.

The students, including some from nearby Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts in Boston, were carried to a bus surrounded by more than 100 state, local and campus police in riot gear and about 200 cheering students.

The 35 people arrested were taken to locker rooms at the football stadium for booking and arraignment on trespassing and other charges.

The 20-hour takeover was the third occupation in two weeks on the 25,000- student campus.

In New York, CUNY Chancellor Joseph S. Murphy said college presidents agreed not to punish demonstrators provided ″they had not been involved in the destruction of property or in causing injury to others.″

Hunter College students said they were happy with the amnesty offer and with the formation of a committee of students, faculty, administration and staff that would advise the president on budget matters.

More than 100 students at Hunter vacated three floors of a building this morning, expressing satisfaction with an agreement reached during the early- morning hours with President Paul LeClerc.

″This struggle is not over,″ said student spokeswoman Vivian Brady. ″We won a major battle in stopping the tuition raise, but there are still many cuts in the budget to be regained.″

Students left the president’s offices at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, according to Rodin. Protesters were planning to leave buildings this afternoon at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, she said.

The demonstrations began April 24 when a group of students occupied a building at City College in Harlem to protest threatened $200-a-year tuition increases and staff and faculty reductions because of state budget cuts.

The protests and sit-ins quickly spread to seven of the 20 campuses in the system. Gov. Mario Cuomo vetoed tuition hikes earlier this week but did not boost funding, and school officials warn as many as 350 positions could be cut.

In California, the Association of Graduate Student Employees at Berkeley said 70 percent of 410 classes were canceled because of the strike by nearly all of the 3,200 teaching and research assistants; 18 percent were less than half full and only 12 percent had normal attendance, according to the survey.

The results were similar to those reported by the association Wednesday, when the strike began with the aim of gaining national attention for a burgeoning movement on the country’s campuses - recognition of assistants as employees.

University officials, however, said the effort was mostly symbolic.

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