Battle to stay on campus leads to arrest
Student arrested for trespassing while making an appointment
A PHYSICS MASTER’S student was arrested on campus during the fall exam period, days after receiving a no-trespassing notice from university Protection Services.
Joseph Hickey was handcuffed and escorted out of University of Ottawa President Allan
Rock’s office on Dec. 11 as he was attempting to arrange an appointment to have the notice revoked.
“As a registered full-time graduate student with course, research, and teaching assistant obligations, I have the right to be on campus every day, without discrimination or interference,” said Hickey.
Hickey had been served with a no-trespassing notice at a “freedom of expression event” on Dec. 7 under the accusation of painting “These Walls Belong To Students” on the walls of the Morisset Hall. Hickey was trying to arrange an appointment with Rock to have the notice revoked, having received an email on Dec. 8 from Protection Services informing him that the no-trespassing notice was still valid.
Protection Services said that they would make an exception only for his Dec. 9 exam. Two days later, his arrest was carried out by the Ottawa Police Service.
When he was told that he could not be on the U of O campus, Hickey started to email Rock in an attempt to get the restrictions removed. After being escorted off U of O property during a physics graduate holiday party, he explained he continued to do everything that he could in order to get the no trespassing notice revoked. He was not alone in his pursuits.
“We requested that the trespass notice be revoked immediately,” said Graduate Students’ Association (GSAÉD) External Commissioner Gaétan-Philippe Beaulière via email. “[Issuing a trespass notice] should only be used against such students who act deliberately in a way that compromises the ... well-being or the security of the other members of the university community. Painting on a wall does not warrant the use of such drastic measures.”
Hickey also had CUPE 2626, the union that represents teaching assistants at the U of O, writing letters on his behalf. CUPE wrote a letter to Rock, stating that it was an infringement of Hickey’s rights as a lab demonstrator to keep him from campus, as it put his job in danger and restricted his access to the on-campus CUPE office. CUPE also claims that the no trespassing ticket is illegitimate, as it is in violation of the U of O’s mandate to provide a “free and non-discriminatory workplace” to all union members. Hickey also wrote to Ottawa’s Police Chief Vern White, asking him to keep police out of student political affairs.
Hickey so far has received no word from White. Ottawa Police Service stated that it was a confidential matter, and that White had not come out with an official statement on the subject. Hickey has also been unsuccessful in getting a response from Rock.
“However, the Vice President of Governance has replied, informing me that I have to contact the head of Protection to discuss coming to campus,” said Hickey.
The issue is further complicated by the fact that Hickey is a teaching assistant and has not received his winter semester contract because of the restrictions.
“I’m a TA, however the department of physics refused to send me my contract by email—which is the normal [procedure]—saying that they can’t do that until the trespass issue is cleared up. The job starts next week, so I think that this basically is ... denial of work,” explained Hickey.
According to Hickey, he will go to trial on Jan. 12, facing charges of mischief under $5,000. He indicated the trial will only concern events from the day when the graffiti was drawn, and does not include the no-trespassing restriction. Hickey is pleading not guilty to the charges, and is unsure of what the outcome will be.
“I’m not sure what to expect. I’m pleading not guilty, and I might need to call witnesses,” he said.
At press time it was unknown whether charges will be pressed against Hickey by the U of O for vandalism and the violation of the no trespassing ticket.
Due to the legal nature of the issue, the university was unable to comment on the matter.