At last, the $1 million pepper spray settlement was finalized last week.
The lawsuit argues that the University used force that violated constitutional protections, including First Amendment rights, on Nov. 18 of last year.
Much has already been said about the incident and the settlement. We don’t wish to sound repetitive, but it is always worth declaring our support for the students involved in the lawsuit.
We’ve heard some murmurs around campus passing judgment on the plaintiffs, suggesting that they should have continued fighting — they shouldn’t have settled and they shouldn’t accept the University’s money.
We disagree. It’s unrealistic to expect students to put their lives on hold for a lawsuit that probably would have taken years. It’s impossible to expect students, who were originally protesting tuition hikes and decreasing quality in higher education, to ignore their classes, goals and responsibilities.
And it’s important to reiterate, the $1 million comes from a designated fund set up to deal with legal issues the University faces. It’s not from student fees or anywhere else symbolically problematic.
The 21 plaintiffs will receive $30,000 each. Another 38 individuals made claims, and amongst those, 15 will receive $6,666 each. Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi will also be issuing personal apologies.
It’s unfortunate that the financial cap means not everyone who was affected by the pepper spray incident — directly or indirectly — can be compensated. Nonetheless, we hope it will provide some much needed closure on this campus.