A three-member panel at Boston University acquitted a B.U. student late Wednesday night of impairing university-authorized Marine recruiting at a demonstration last March 1.
The panel decided unanimously in less than ten minutes that Philip Ostrow, a B.U. senior, had not physically prevented anyone from seeing the Marine recruiter. The panel voted two to one that his participation in the demonstration did not constitute impairment of university-authorized activities.
The surprisingly early decision came after B.U.'s prosecutor agreed to dismiss all but one witness. Ostrow and his lawyer said they would accept the testimony of the one prosecution witness, who testified Wednesday.
John Lord, professor of Television and Film Arts at B.U. and a member of the hearing panel, said after the hearing's dinner recess that the jury was dissatisfied with the presentation of evidence.
Lord said that the panel wanted to hear a summary of the university's case from B.U.'s prosecutor and a statement from the defendant.
Kenneth Watson, B.U.'s chief representative at the hearing, said his remaining witnesses would only corroborate the testimony of his first witness.
Clare Cotton, B.U.'s vice-president for Public Affairs, testified Wednesday afternoon that he had seen Ostrow at the front of the demonstration but that he had not seen him physically stopping anyone who wanted to pass the blockade.
Ostrow agreed to those stipulations, but defended his participation in the demonstration on the grounds that non-violent opposition to the U.S. military did not impair any legitimately authorized university activity.
Ostrow said that B.U. was prosecuting him and four other students only because of their political stance.
Ostrow's mother, who was permitted to observe the hearing, interrupted the proceedings to defend her son's political involvement. Ostrow has been a non-violent political activist since high school, his mother said.
Murray Levin, professor of History at B.U., testified that Ostrow probably could not hear university orders for the demonstrators to disperse from his vantage point in the demonstrations.
Ostrow was separated by a wall from B.U.'s chief of security when the officer used a bullhorn to address the crowd. Levin said.
Robert Tucker, a B.U. junior, testified that he had entered the building in which the Marine recruiter was waiting at 10 a.m. on March 1. an hour after the time the prosecution had contended that no one could pass the student blockade.
Watson said in his concluding statement that he agreed with Mrs. Ostrow that her son is non-violent and that the university was seeking only his probation, and not expulsion for the alleged violations.
Levin, who also acted as one of two faculty observers at the hearing, said yesterday that Ostrow's trial was "a sort of sad farce."
"It was sad because the affair was so important to Phil and his family," Levin said. "It was a farce because B.U.'s lawyers and hearing examiners tried to lend the accoutrements of a trial to a procedure that violated every premise of due process."
"B.U.'s disciplinary code provides more of the elements of the process than any other private university has offered." Watson said yesterday.
"I'm disappointed in what appears to be the heavy, heavy burden of proof that the university has to bear to show its rights have been impaired." Watson said.
Ostrow could not be reached yesterday for a comment.
A hearing for Mary Perkins, the second student to be tried in connection with last Spring's demonstrations, is scheduled to begin October 10