Braving heavy downpours, students clumped outside Campus Copy Center yesterday for a third consecutive day protesting an alleged assault on a Penn graduate student. Graduate School of Education student Gregory Seaton has accused four store employees of denying him service and attacking him last Tuesday. Although Seaton, who is black, has alleged racial discrimination in the incident, protesters say their actions are not motivated by this accusation. "We think what's important is that there was a physical altercation," Wharton senior and Black Student League President Erika Coleman said. "We're trying to make sure that the larger student body understands our platform. I think whether it's a race issue is very difficult to prove." Campus Copy representatives deny the allegations, which are currently being investigated by University Police. Store owner Stan Shapiro said he is not concerned by the protests or the potential threat of a lawsuit by Seaton. "I would hope that no one rushes to judgement and prejudges something that is under investigation," Shapiro said. "It would be irresponsible on their side." Shapiro said he feels Seaton has created misconceptions about the events that actually occurred. "An inflammatory e-mail... has caused all this trouble," Shapiro said. "It bothers me greatly. I'm really just terribly offended by the whole thing." Many students first learned of last week's incident after an e-mail from Seaton began circulating on several campus listservs. The Undergraduate Assembly issued a six-point statement at its meeting last night, stating, among other things, that the UA believes individual student groups should determine whether they will patronize Campus Copy following the allegations of the assault. The statement also said that the UA believed that Campus Copy acted inappropriately, and asked that store issue an public apology for the incident. Neither Seaton nor his legal counsel could be reached for comment. In the meantime, Provost Robert Barchi will meet with selected faculty members and students today to discuss racial issues, according to UA Chairman Michael Bassik. Although the meeting is not directly in response to the alleged assault, it was inspired by the Campus Copy incident. One of the issues that will be discussed is whether or not the University should hold an open forum for students and community members to voice their opinions about the incident. Bassik, a College senior, said he plans to advise the provost not take this measure. "I just think tensions are too high right now," Bassik said. "I want to find a way for students to get things off their chests in a safe manner. I think it's too soon to hold an open forum." Coleman said she did not know how long the protesting would continue, but she added that the protests were mostly directed at the University. "We hope that the University will find another option for students to buy their bulkpacks," Coleman said. University spokeswoman Lori Doyle said that Penn does not directly endorse Campus Copy but, rather, leaves it up to individual faculty to decide whether or not to utilize the store. "Campus Copy is like any other vendor," Doyle said. "It's not like they have any favored status." But Coleman said she hopes the University will respond to the requests of students who are afraid to visit the store. "Physical altercation is enough for me to say that I want an alternative to Campus Copy," Coleman said.Comments powered by Disqus
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