Rally Planned In Durant Over Disciplined College Students - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Rally Planned In Durant Over Disciplined College Students

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DURANT, OK -- An Ardmore activist says a rally is planned on Saturday over a college's sanctions against five students implicated in an April Fools' night prank.

The students were not arrested, but the reports of people pushing their way into apartments on April 2 triggered a campus wide alert. Now some say, the punishment for the Southeastern Oklahoma State University students is too harsh.

The football field at the college is ready for 500 new graduates, but one activist is upset about a man who won't get a diploma on Saturday.

"It was a prank and you know we've all been kids, we've all played pranks," says NAACP Ardmore branch president Elizabeth Williams.

Williams says the school wants to suspend five senior football players, including four set to graduate in December, for one year following a fake robbery prank last month.

"They went in demanded money, wallets, things like that, and then left, didn't take anything and left," says Durant police Det. Drew Hale. "The people didn't know and they didn't identify themselves."

"There were no guns involved and as it stands right now there's no criminal charges being charged against them, and there was no breaking and entering. The kids knew them and they let them in," says Williams.

Williams says the five students have been deprived of their legal rights, and that's why she says she decided to organize a Saturday morning march at the school. Williams says the students were not allowed to have a lawyer appear with them at two committee hearings.

"The first board hearing that the young men attended was thrown out because one of the board members made a racial slur," says Williams, who would not disclose the comment. "We still believe that even though there was a new board selected there may have been some bias because their minds were already made up."

"Anything pertaining to students the university is not allowed to speak to that due to privacy and FERPA regulations," says campus police chief Stacy Ballew.

The school has set up an area across the street from graduation for the protest. "These are our future leaders our community leaders, may even be school teachers, honor roll students, very bright young men, that made poor choices," says Williams.
  
Police say the victims were adamant there was a gun, but that the suspects denied that. Williams says she would rather they do community service, and if the decision is not changed, they will sue.