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28 May 2008

In Defense of Student Who Pied Friedman

To: The Administration of Brown University

On April 22, Brown University student Molly Little threw a pie at New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in protest of his pro-war, pro-corporate views, and the prominence he receives in promulgating those views while others are suppressed. Friedman received no injuries from the fluffy pie, and resumed his full lecture after five minutes. Due to the harmlessness of the incident, no legal charges were pressed by any party.

Nevertheless, on May 15, after a hearing conducted by Brown's Office of Student Life, the administration sentenced Molly to a 'suspension'--in fact an indefinite expulsion. As a result Molly is unable to enroll at Brown in the fall semester, or even set foot on the campus. She is not guaranteed readmission, but must reapply to the same administration which has committed this miscarriage of justice.

The punishment imposed on Molly is severely disproportionate to the incident to which it supposedly responds. It is not compatible with Brown's mandate as an educational institution. The University has put its desire to draw 'marquee' speakers--regardless of their intellectual value--and control student activism above its mission to teach.

Further demonstrating Brown's abandonment of responsibility to students is its indifference towards the actions of Assistant Professor Stephen Porder, who physically attacked and detained Molly in an absurd act of self-righteous vigilantism. The dean who is supposed to be investigating the matter simply refuses to return calls.

We, the undersigned, categorically reject the so-called 'suspension,' actually indefinite expulsion, of Molly Little. We demand her unconditional readmission to Brown University without fines, fees, or red tape.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

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