SUS students sue Regents
Published: Friday, February 18, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 13:02
Southern University system students filed a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Board of Regents of Louisiana.
Seven students along with attorneys filed a petition for declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and restraining order against the Board of Regents to ensure the board is representative of the state's population by race and gender to ensure diversity.
"We want the Board of Regents to become constitutionally sound. Louisiana Constitution Article 8 Section 5 (A)(B)(1) states appointments should be representative of Louisiana residents based on the 2000 census," said Venese Morgan, senior political science major in Baton Rouge.
The seven students are initiating this petition with the help of attorneys including Cleo Fields. They urge SU to be on one accord for the success of this order.
"First and foremost, everyone has to be on one accord; students, faculty, and staff. Students should pay attention. We need for everyone to be together," said Dadrius Lanus, junior political science and history major from Baton Rouge.
The seven students represent the Southern University System including the campuses at Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and the SU Law Center.
According to the petition filed, students involved include SUNO students Eugenie Tobin and Ellis Brent; SUBR students Kye Lewis, Dadrius Lanus, Nykeshia Bryer and Venese Morgan; and SULC student Charles Toney Jr.
The case is expected to result in a halt to the study of the merger of SUNO/UNO and a Board of Regents representative of the Louisiana residents.
"If I could picture a new Board of Regents it would be a board that's rich in diversity. That represents all minorities and genders," said Bryer, a senior political science major from Greensburg, La.
The students and their attorneys expect for the suit to solve some issues that under the current board are not being addressed objectively.
According to the filed petition: "Wherefore the petitioners pray that: This honorable court enter a temporary restraining order without bond, prohibiting the Board of Regents from taking any actions regarding any proposed merger of Southern University at New Orleans and University of New Orleans with respect to petitioners pending further proceedings on this matter."
The restraining order would prevent the board from any actions towards the merger study or decision until proceedings conclude.
The document continues: "After bearing is held, that this court enter a permanent injunction, restraining the Board of Regents from taking any and all actions relating to any proposed study and merger of Southern University at New Orleans and University of New Orleans pending further orders of the court."
If the decision of the court is held as petitioned, the Board of Regents will have no power to make decisions regarding the merger or study by orders of the court.
This part of the document concludes: "Thereafter a permanent injunction issue in the form and substance of the preliminary injunction and lastly issue a declaratory judgment ruling, that the Board of Regents in unconstitutional due to it's current racial and gender composition."
If this ruling is rendered the Board of Regents will no longer serve as authority and management over many decisions relating to public institutions of Post Secondary Education of the State of Louisiana, inclusive of proposed creations, mergers, management boards, and transfers.
"We are expecting justice to be served on the Board of Regents," said Morgan.
Bryer expressed the need for support inside and outside the courtroom.
"This is proof that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 didn't mean anything. The best thing is to fight on the outside and inside. Have student rallying on the outside with us fighting on the inside," said Bryer.
Lanus discussed his confidence going into this suit.
"I feel confident. I feel as though all of this is necessary. I feel all the information needs to be heard by the public. The Governor didn't follow procedure and no one is above the law," said Lanus.
The hearing for this case will take place in the 19th Judicial District Court on Feb. 24 at 1:30 p.m.