Every Friday, we’ll hit the streets to ask students what they think. This week we stopped by the Co-op to gauge opinion on today’s court date for members of the Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition. Eighteen student members of the coalition were arrested in April when they refused to leave UT President William Powers Jr.’s office after the end of the business day. They had occupied the office to protest UT’s refusal to join the Worker Rights Consortium, a labor rights group that guarantees humane working conditions in factories that manufacture apparel for UT. During the summer, UT acquiesced to the protesters’ demands and joined the Worker Rights Consortium, but the Travis County Attorney’s Office is still pressing criminal trespass charges against the protesters. We asked students whether or not UT should remain silent on the issue, or attempt to convince the county attorney to drop the charges against the students.
“UT should take no action. If the students knew they trespassed, and even if they have already come to an agreement, they still have to pay for what they have done.”
Celeny Benitez, electrical engineering freshman from Houston.
“Charges should be dropped because there’s no malicious intent or bad faith in what the protesters were doing, which would be a reason to charge them. Since it was peaceful and there was no harm done, UT should attempt to drop the charges. Even though they did break the law by staying in a building past certain hours, I don’t think it’s something they should be charged for.”
Rashi Agrawal, public relations senior from Houston.
“I think that even though there were laws that were broken and they shouldn’t have stayed past five, they didn’t revolt or turn to violent aggression. They went peacefully. If UT already gave in to their demands, they should probably drop the charges. This isn’t going to go anywhere. It doesn’t make any sense that UT would continue on when the fight is essentially already over because they got what they wanted and at the end of the day UT got them out of the president’s office.”
Maria Ponce, Latin American studies junior from San Antonio.