Reimbursement of Occupiers' Legal Fees Still Stalled
At an April 13 University Student Senate meeting, New School for Social Research students John Clegg and Micah Murphy and Lang student Eric MacPhail submitted an initial proposal asking for $4,100, citing financial strain and concerns about equal access to justice. The USS felt that not enough financial documentation had been provided and asked that the students resubmit the proposal with additional documentation so they could vote on it.
As of press time, they have not submitted a formal proposal.
At a USS meeting on April 25, Micah Murphy, told the Senate the proposal would be in the following day. Neither John Clegg, the author of the proposal, nor Eric MacPhail was present at the April 25 meeting.
A similar proposal was brought before the Lang Student Union on February 11, but the LSU never voted on it due to similar concerns regarding incomplete information. USS co-chair Peter Cummings said he did not know why the proposal has not come in yet.
Supporters of the proposal say its purpose is to level the legal playing field between the occupiers and the university. Cummings called this the fundamental issue of the proposal, saying, “Everyone ought to have equal access to justice.”
“I would support that even if I didn’t agree with [the occupiers],” he added.
Others remain skeptical. USS co-chair Dan Schulman said in an email to the *Free Press* that the USS needs to confirm details with Oliver and that the claimants need to send the USS documentation and a formal proposal before they would dispense funds–“not just an invoice.”
“If there is an inconsistency, then obviously there is something shady going on and people aren't being entirely truthful,” Schulman said, “and we need to also know who they want this money to go to. I don't think anyone is going to let these funds go into the pockets of the students.”
Others familiar with the issue feel that the USS should not reimburse the occupiers, as it is not the senate’s responsibility, but the university’s.
“It was the decision of senior administration to call in the New York Police Department that led to those charges,” said New School for Social Research senator Chris Crews. “Therefore the responsibility and the obligation should be on the university, not the student senate.”
“From a political rights' standpoint," Crews added, "President Kerrey over-exceeded (sic) his authority by calling in the NYPD."
For now, the debate remains hypothetical until the proposal is submitted.