Christina Lee, Photography Editor

Early Monday morning, Yale police arrested 48 pro-Palestine protesters who had camped on Beinecke Plaza for three nights beginning on Friday. Of those arrested, 44 are students currently enrolled at Yale, who will face both legal charges and academic disciplinary proceedings.

Students who have police reports filed against them are automatically referred to the Executive Committee –– the body that enforces the Undergraduate Regulations –– per section B of the Committee’s disciplinary procedures.

“The standard procedure is that if somebody is arrested, they are referred to ExComm,” Dean of Yale College Pericles Lewis told the News.

Upon arrest, the protesters were charged with trespassing, a Class A misdemeanor. The arrested students all received summonses for court dates on May 8, the last day of the academic term. 

Despite the University issuing warnings of disciplinary action to all protesters over the weekend, Lewis told the News on Wednesday that no students, including those who slept over in the encampment, would face disciplinary action except those who were arrested and those who are under investigation for instigating violence.

“If there’s evidence of harassment, intimidation, violence and so on that took place over those days … clearly we would discipline that behavior,” Lewis said. “But to the extent that — and this was true — the majority it was peaceful assembly, even if it was in fact trespassing, we’re not planning to charge anybody with trespassing who was peacefully trespassing.”

Lewis said that the three clearest policies that arrested students may have violated are “interference with university operations because you couldn’t get to the Schwarzman Center or get around campus,” “trespassing because they’ve been told that it was time to leave” and “defiance of authority.”

In an email to parents Sunday afternoon, prior to the arrests, Lewis wrote that students who do not follow University guidelines may be subject to reprimand, probation or suspension.

Civil rights attorney Alex Taubes LAW ’15 wrote to the News that although he cannot be entirely sure what Yale will do, he expects the University to reprimand students.

“I would be surprised if Yale suspended or put anyone on probation for this,” he wrote. “I think a reprimand, at most, would be the correct sanction. This was a nonviolent protest.” 

According to the Yale College Undergraduate Regulations website, reprimands are the lightest penalty dealt by the Executive Committee, and they entail written records in college deans’ offices that are destroyed upon graduation.

A penalty of probation would restrict students from participating in a Year or Term Abroad and holding leadership or officer positions in any registered Yale College student organization that receives university funding.

Suspension, the most serious penalty mentioned in Lewis’ email to parents, entails “separation from the University for a stated period of time.” A suspended student may not return to campus during the designated period unless “they receive express written permission in advance from their residential college head or dean, or from the dean of student affairs.” Suspensions are recorded on students’ academic transcripts.

Lewis told the News that although he is not on the Executive Committee and is not involved with their final decision, he thinks “it would be highly unusual for expulsion for anything like what’s happened so far” because expulsion is usually reserved for extreme events or violent behavior. Lewis’ message to parents also did not mention other possible penalties the Committee has the power to enact, namely restriction, fines and rustication — which forces students to move off campus and bars them from entering their residential colleges.

Paul McKinley, senior associate dean of strategic initiatives and communications, told the News that the Executive Committee usually waits to reach out to students who may face disciplinary proceedings until after any court hearings they have scheduled because they do not want any internal University decision to influence what happens in court. Lewis and McKinley said that they did not know if that meant the meeting would occur after May 8, or if the first communication would be sent to students after May 8.

Michael Hunter, chair of the Executive Committee and a professor of East Asian Languages & Literatures, wrote to the News that “the outcome of an Executive Committee referral is never preordained.”

In terms of whether a referral could affect a student’s graduation, Hunter wrote that “some penalties would prevent a student from taking part in graduation, others wouldn’t. It all depends on the circumstances, including whether a student has a previous disciplinary history.”

The Committee, appointed by the dean of Yale College, is currently composed of 13 Yale College faculty members and 21 undergraduate students. The coordinating group, consisting of the chair, vice-chair and secretary, conducts the initial review for each submitted report. If there is a need to locate additional documents or information, an investigation is initiated. If the group finds sufficient information available in the report to constitute a violation of the Undergraduate Regulations, the report moves to the full Executive Committee. 

The first step of consideration from the full Executive Committee is notifying the student. The notification includes a copy of the report that provides the basis for the allegation of misconduct. The student can choose an adviser, who aids the student in preparing to appear before the Executive Committee, and can respond in writing to the allegation.

In instances where there are no factual disputes offered by the student, the Coordinating Group may offer students the option of a resolution via an agreement of responsibility without a hearing.

In cases that do involve a hearing, after a full consideration, the Committee votes for a penalty through a confidential ballot that is not shared with the student. 

Decisions made by the Executive Committee are final and take immediate effect. Decisions may only be reopened by the Executive Committee if new substantial evidence arises. 

According to NBC News, more than 108 people were arrested on Columbia University’s campus last Thursday following a 34-hour encampment. Among those students, 53 were from Barnard College and were suspended under the college’s regulations, a 1.6 percent share of Barnard’s student body. Suspended students from Barnard were evicted from campus housing and lost access to campus dining. 

However, on April 22, Laura Ann Rosenbury, president of Barnard College, said that students can get off the interim suspension “if they agree to follow all Barnard rules during a probationary period.”

The Columbia Spectator reported that some suspended students who “had not previously engaged in misconduct under Barnard’s rules” were also offered an “Alternative Resolution process.” That process allows students to agree to specific sanctions and waive all rights to participate in the conduct process in exchange for “immediate lifting of any interim suspension.” 

One of the sanctions is participating in an “Educational Project” where students submit a reflection paper of at least 100 words on the Student Code of Conduct and are placed on probation until Aug. 9.

Following protests at Harvard University, the college suspended the Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee on the grounds of “co-organizing protests with unrecognized student advocacy groups.” According to The Harvard Crimson, the college ordered the group to “cease all organizational activities for the remainder of the Spring 2024 term” or risk permanent expulsion. 

On March 28, several pro-Palestine protesters were arrested during a sit-in at Union Station in New Haven.

Tristan Hernandez contributed reporting.

Josie Reich covers Admissions, Financial Aid & Alumni for the News. Originally from Washington, DC, she is a sophomore in Davenport College majoring in American Studies.
Asuka Koda covers the Yale School of Medicine and the Yale School of Public Health. From New York City, she is a first-year in Davenport majoring in Mathematics and Philosophy.