The State University of New York (SUNY) at Brockport said students will be allowed to skip class on the day of an event featuring a convicted cop killer.
SUNY Brockport is hosting “History of Black Resistance, U.S. Political Prisoners & Genocide: A Conversation with Jalil Muntaqim” on April 6. Muntaqim, previously known as Anthony Bottom, was part of the Black Liberation Army that assassinated two New York City police officers Waverly Jones and Joseph A. Piagentini in 1971 and spent 50 years in prison, SUNY Brockport President Heidi McPherson said in the university’s announcement of the event.
The university was prepared for the possibility of “large numbers” of police officers on campus for the speaking event which could be “traumatizing” for some students, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at SUNY Brockport Linda Delene announced Tuesday.
“For some students, if the event proceeds in person, the possible advent of large numbers of police on campus may be another traumatizing event,” Delene wrote. “Further, some students may choose to not attend classes due to personal safety concerns on April 6, 2022.”
“Our attendance policy includes the phrase ‘other circumstances beyond the control of the student’ which will be accepted in this particular situation,” Delene added.
Delene said SUNY Brockport does not recognize or endorse the characterization of Muntaqim as a “political prisoner,” but respects the right of faculty members to characterize him in that way, according to the announcement.
She added that an anonymous donor is funding the event and no state funds will be used to support the speaker fee.
Muntaqim’s visit was originally funded through a grant titled “Promoting Excellence in Diversity,” but on March 16 the university announced the grant was rescinded.
SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson announced Wednesday that in order “to build a plan that prioritizes the safety of our students, faculty, staff and campus guests” the university was moving the event to a virtual format.
“This event has elicited strong feedback, divergent opinions, and has already spurred protests,” she added. “We are grateful for the various agencies and partners who will be supporting the safety of our campus during the upcoming days and weeks.”