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UNF faculty members sign petition to drop charges against student protestors

Updated on May 24 to include clarification on the petition’s creation.

In the wake of the protests on the UNF green earlier this month, several university faculty members have filed a petition distancing themselves from administration’s response to the demonstrations.

The petition, created by Dr. Rosa De Jorio, Professor of Anthropology and Coordinator of UNF’s anthropology program, and finalized with assistance from sociology professor Dr. David Jaffee and attorney Mark Barnett, calls for UNF to side with the students involved in the protest.

The petition urges the university “through its leadership, inform the Duval County State Attorney’s Office, as the ‘victim’ in this case, that it does not wish further proceedings ensue, and that Office should decline to prosecute those individuals.”                                       

Additionally, the document requests that the university end “any and all” disciplinary action against the students and suggests the university create a task force dedicated to addressing future peaceful demonstrations on campus.

According to Mark Barnett, the attorney representing the 16 arrested protestors, UNF administration did not meet with either him or those involved in the protests. University President Moez Limayem, along with Barnett and the students, initially agreed to a May 9 meeting.

Spinnaker contacted the university for comment but did not receive a response regarding the meeting between the administration, Barnett and the students involved.  

Standing in solidarity with the protesting students, De Jorio hopes the petition will open communication between UNF and its student body.

“We want to create a situation in which we can [have] dialogue and find negotiations and understandings, not confrontations,” she said.

Dr. David Jaffee is the faculty sponsor for UNF’s Students for a Democratic Society chapter and shared his thoughts on law enforcement’s involvement in the protests.

“There simply is no reason why the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office should have been notified to bring out police officers. That was a big, big mistake,” Jaffee said. “The fact that the university calls out the police to arrest its own students is a fundamental violation of the social contract of a university.”

The University of North Florida Police Department was joined by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to monitor the protest. (Collin Frye)

As of May 22, 34 UNF faculty members have signed the petition. Last week, 13 of the 16 protestors arrested pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor trespass charges. The State Attorney’s Office said it does not intend to drop the charges. 

The protestors will return to court for pre-trial proceedings on June 17 at 9:30 a.m.

This is a developing story. Stay with Spinnaker as we continue to cover the students arrested and the university’s response.


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Ethan Leckie
Ethan Leckie, Enterprise Editor
A Pad Thai enthusiast, NASCAR follower, and Jon Bois fanboy, Ethan Leckie is a third-year journalism major at the University of North Florida, minoring in international studies. He first began his involvement with Spinnaker as a volunteer reporter in the fall of 2021 and currently holds the position of Enterprise Editor. Ethan has always had a passion for writing and hopes to work for a newspaper one day. He enjoys watching YouTube, cooking, and visiting restaurants in his free time. If you see him on campus, ask him about his pieces - he loves to talk about them!

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