Members of the Psychology Department stand in strong support of the right of students to protest on campus. We support peaceful expression of all viewpoints, and – importantly – the facilitation of dialogue about issues on which we disagree. We believe that protests are one way to facilitate such dialogue.

We are concerned about the decision of the Wake Forest Administration to invite the Winston-Salem police department and the Forsyth County Sherriff’s deputies to disperse the protest on the morning of Friday, May 3. We are especially concerned at the way in which the dispersion was carried out, involving heavy police presence, driving of police vehicles on the lawns close to protesters, and seemingly not providing any advanced notice or time for negotiation. Many students (and faculty) experienced this action as frightening, hostile, and traumatic. Students who appeared to be abiding by the previous agreement with the administration and were continuing to negotiate in good faith felt betrayed. Unfortunately, the events of that morning have created a deep distrust of the administration. This decision, and the way it was implemented, caused
harm to students and faculty.

We recognize that we don’t know all that happened on the morning of May 3. However, what we do know has us deeply disappointed in both the dismantling of the protest and the way it was carried out. From our perspective, students were expressing their opinions on an important political issue, had come to an agreement with the administration, and were abiding by the major terms of the agreement. The administrative decision on May 3 appears to diverge from the initially cooperative negotiation spirit that we had hoped would be a shining example of Wake Forest community and process.

In this statement, we are not taking a stance on the issues the protesters were raising. We are taking a stance on the rights of students to protest. The actions taken by the university on the morning of May 3 rd appear to violate important principles Wake Forest and universities stand for, including open discourse, learning, academic exploration, and most importantly, Pro Humanitate. Pro Humanitate must stand for everyone and include all of our students’ voices and rights to expression.