SDS speaks on why they attended Madeleine Albright’s lecture

Hayley Simonson

On Wednesday night, three UNF students protested the appearance of former Secretary of State, Madeleine K. Albright.

“If you pluck the feathers off a chicken one at a time, no one will notice,” said Albright. It was a quote from her book. The former secretary was led in discussion by UNF President, David Szymanski. 

Not long into the event, UNF students allegedly caused a disruption of the lecture by hanging white sheets from the second floor of the arena which displayed phrases like, “M Albright Not Welcome at UNF,” and a banner listing her “War Crimes.” The University of North Florida Police Department was alerted quickly about the situation, just in time to stop the first attempt at protest. Not long after, more students returned with more banners and police began to escort them out. 

Three of the protesters are UNF students that shared they are a part of an anti-war organization called SDS. Monique Sampson, former president and member of the organization, said that they decided to protest when they first heard about the event because “it was really concerning.” She said Albright likes to talk about successes in the Middle East but won’t comment on all the lives that were lost due to the affairs of her and her work with the Clinton administration.

We are an anti-war organization and oppose all useless wars and sanctions that result in the deaths of millions around the world. Albright’s work is not a success,”  said Sampson. According to her, it doesn’t matter if someone is black, white, Asian, female, or male if they have had a horrible career as a secretary. “As an educator, it should qualify you to make decisions based on what is morally right and wrong.”

SDS statement on why they don’t support the former Secretary of State.

According to Sampson, their protest banners were stripped from them and they were asked to leave. Now, the three students will be sent to student conduct. The students claim this was an unfair decision made by the university. They argue their first amendment rights should protect them in the same way the university protects the controversial campus preacher.

When reaching out to the university for comment on why the students were escorted out they would not comment on whether students are subject to disciplinary actions due to FERPA restrictions.

“On February 5th, 2020 some members of SDS participated in a silent banner drop during the Madeline Albright’s event to bring attention to her horrendous war crimes which include the following:

*Supported a 78 day bombing campaign on Yugoslavia

*One of the key architects for Clinton’s Iraq policy

*Championed the Iraqi sanctions which led to half a million dead Iraqis. When asked about it she said “I think the price is worth it.”

*Failed to properly respond to the Rwandan Genocide culminating in the deaths of 800,000 Rwandans

This is a small list of the things she did as the Secretary of State during the Clinton administration.

We were able to participate in the silent banner drop for about 30 seconds when UPD came to escort us out and then take our banners.  They took our IDs and then referred us to Student Conduct for participating in the Silent Banner drop.

Time and time again we have been told that there is nothing they can do about the horrible anti-choice flyers and banners that are plastered around campus every Spring. Time and time again we are told by UNF administration that there is nothing that can be done about the preachers who disrupt and harass students as they walk by the green. This is all supposedly due to freedom of speech and expression. However, when we participate in a silent banner drop we are reprimanded almost immediately and referred to student conduct for “disrupting.”

New SDS is staunchly anti-war organization and we will not welcome warmongers to our school with open arms. Please send good vibes to the brave students who participated in this banner drop as they deal with the consequences at the Student Conduct office.

We have attached photos of the banner drop, a flyer detailing Albright’s horrendous war crimes as well as the charges some SDS students received from the Student Conduct office. #USOutOfTheMiddleEast #NoWarWithIran”

–Statement from SDS on the event


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