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The Dartmouth
June 17, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

What’s next for the arrested student protesters?

Disciplinary processes are set to be resolved before the end of the term, arraignments are scheduled for the summer and criminal trials may not occur until the fall.

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Prosecutors in the Lebanon District Court are moving forward with criminal proceedings for individuals arrested on the Green last week, with arraignment court dates scheduled for July 15 and Aug. 5, according to Hanover Police Department lieutenant Mike Schibuola. 

A media release from the Hanover Police Department reported that a total of 89 individuals were arrested during the May 1 protest on the Green. According to a May 6 community-wide email from Dartmouth Student Government, 65 of the people arrested were Dartmouth students, including two reporters for The Dartmouth. The State of New Hampshire decided not to pursue charges against the student journalists earlier this week, leaving 63 students who may face criminal charges and potential disciplinary action by the College. 

Schibuola said “almost all” individuals were arrested for violating state criminal trespassing laws. According to New Hampshire state law, a person is guilty of criminal trespass if they “knowingly enter or remain” in a place where they personally received “an order to leave or not to enter” by the owner of the place or another “authorized person.”  

In addition to state charges, arrested students may also face disciplinary action from the College. Administrators in the College’s Office of Community Standards and Accountability are currently “reviewing available reports” to determine whether the students violated the College’s Standards of Conduct during the May 1 protest, College spokesperson Jana Barnello wrote in an email statement to The Dartmouth.

The CSA office declined to comment on any details concerning individual disciplinary action or outcomes. According to Barnello, the College hopes to communicate with individual students on the matter by early next week and will seek to resolve cases by the end of the term. 

The arrested students’ bail conditions ban them from the Green, 14 Webster Ave. — College President Sian Leah Beilock’s residence — and Parkhurst Hall, the administration building. 

Students have expressed concern that they may not be able to participate in Powwow or Commencement, which will be held on the Green on May 11 and June 9, respectively. A member of the Class of 2024 who was arrested at the protests — and requested anonymity because of his ongoing case — said he was nervous that he may not be able to attend his graduation.

“Flights have been booked,” he said. “Reservations have been made. I would just feel awful if I had to tell my grandparents that there is not going to be any graduation to see because I have been banned from the Green. I owe so much to them, and for them to not have that reward of seeing it come together would just be awful.”

Under current bail conditions, affected students also will not be able to enter the Title IX Office in Parkhurst. 

Title IX director Kristi Clemens said her office will still be able to offer resources to students outside their Parkhurst office. 

“If someone needed to meet with us, we would be happy to meet over Zoom or in a place that is not Parkhurst,” Clemens said. “A priority for me is always that students are aware of and able to access resources and supportive measures.”

According to a May 7 campus-wide email from DSG, arrested students can file for temporary exceptions to their bail conditions via a paper form submitted to Lebanon District Court. The College is supporting arrested students in seeking exceptions to their bail conditions for upcoming events, Barnello wrote. According to Schibuola, Grafton assistant county attorney Mariana Pastore has already granted “several motions” for arrested students to attend Powwow this weekend.

Beyond temporary exceptions, bail conditions are likely to remain in place at least until the start of criminal proceedings this summer, Schibuola said.

Attorney and former National Lawyers Guild Vermont Chapter chair Kira Kelley said that state law classifies first-offense criminal trespassing as a class B misdemeanor, which, according to state law, carries no potential jail time and a maximum fine of $1,200. Kelley said it is “standard practice” in New Hampshire for class B misdemeanor defendants to waive their appearance at an arraignment — the first court date and the official start of a criminal proceeding. To do so, a defendant enters a not guilty plea and submits a written waiver to the court affirming that they have received information about the charges against them.

After an arraignment, cases are set for trial at a later date. According to Kelley, if the charges are not dropped beforehand, court dates will “likely” be set for the fall, though there is uncertainty about the timeline.

“It is hard to predict if and when the trials will happen,” Kelley said.

The member of the Class of 2024  said he has not begun worrying about legal representation because he hopes there will be a “mass drop of charges” for students.

“If that doesn’t happen, then that’s when I have to start worrying about the lead up to court,” he said. “I guess I’m still in that period where I’m hoping the charges will be dropped.”

While Kelley said the Vermont NLG chapter will not take any of the upcoming cases in an “official organizational capacity,” a team of attorneys are volunteering to represent the students “to ensure that everyone who wants representation has access to it.” Kelley said they are representing two students charged with criminal trespassing in the fall.

During the protests, the Vermont NLG chapter deployed around nine trained volunteer legal observers to serve as third party witnesses, according to Kelley. The legal observers present on May 1 were not affiliated with the protest or its organizers but were present to promote “safe, constitutional political expression,” Kelley said. They added that NLG officials choose to deploy legal observers when “police-protester interactions are anticipated.” According to the NLG website, the observers wear bright lime green hats that identify them with the organization.

“Legal observers ideally serve as a deterrent to, but often serve as documentarians of, police brutality and misconduct,” Kelley said.

In an interview, Grafton County Attorney Martha Hornick said she could not comment on the cases, adding that it is the policy of the Lebanon District Court prosecutors not to comment on ongoing cases.