A Superior Court judge, siding with four students in their suit against Boston University, this week ordered the university to allow dormitory residents to hang banners from their windows.
In a permanent injunction issued Tuesday, Judge Haskell C. Freeman ruled that administrators must cease removing the signs and entering the students' rooms to force them to do so. Under the injunction, the school is also prohibited from taking disciplinary action against the four students--Yosef Abramowitz, Anthony Bedard, Jeffrey Weaver and George Lundskow--who violated university policy by displaying anti-apartheid signs and others on the outside of their dormitories.
The students filed the suit last April after BU ordered them expelled them from their dormitories for displaying the banners and, in one student'scase, an American flag. At that time an AppealsCourt justice granted them a preliminaryinjunction allowing them to remain in thedormitory pending the outcome of their suit.
Dormitory residents are required to sign anagreement not to display banners outside thebuilding or face disciplinary action. Universityofficials have argued that the policy is necessaryto avoid conflict with neighborhood residents.
But several key officials, including Dean ofStudents Ronald L. Carter, testified that theschool has permitted banners advertising blooddrives, student government elections and athleticevents. Michael Weissman, one of two MassachusettsCivil Liberties Union attorneys representing thestudents, said yesterday that "the principle ofprivate students having freedom of speech rightsare now protected."
"It was a well-reasoned, persuasive andabsolutely correct decision," Weissman said.
"Justice has been made," said Abramowitz. B. U.President John Silber "must realize that he is notabove the law and that students are not below it."
Abramowitz, the first to challenge the BUbanner policy, late last March hung a 4-by-10-ft.sign urging the school to divest its $22.3 millionworth of stock in companies doing business inSouth Africa. University employees removed thebanner after Abramowitz refused to do so.
Two other students subsequently hung bannersbearing a variety of anti-apartheid messages,including "Tyranny Reigns When Good People DoNothing" and "Death to Apartheid." Weaver, amember of the ROTC, hung an American flag. Schoolofficials removed the banners almost immmediately.
BU General Counsel William Harvey yesterdaysaid the administration is in the process ofevaluating the ruling and has not decided whetherthe school will appeal.
Carter and Silber could not be reached forcomment