College agrees to make room for public

NEW YORK A New York Supreme Court judge approveda settlement reached between the City University of New York andtwo men who accused the board of regents of violating state open-meetinglaws.

William Crain, a CUNY professor, and David Suker, a graduatestudent from the university, withdrew their lawsuit against CUNYafter reaching a settlement Aug. 14 that will ensure the publichas access to the university’s board meetings as well as a placeto sit or stand.

"I believe the settlement is very fair and benefits theentire CUNY community," said Ron Minkoff, Crain’s attorney,in a press release. "It supports a law that is central toa democratic society."

Under the settlement, the public is ensured a specific numberof seats and standing spaces at all CUNY board meetings. Withthe exception of media and some CUNY administrative staff members,the seats at the meetings will be available to the public on first-come,first-serve basis. Previously, CUNY faculty and staff membersoften took up most of the seats in the board’s meeting room, whichcould only seat about 50 people.

The lawsuit stemmed largely from one meeting that drew a largeraudience than usual because of a controversial vote on the eliminationof CUNY’s remedial programs. The room was too small for the numberof people in attendance and when members of the audience protestedthe board’s plan to remove the remedial programs, chanting phraseslike, "save our children," board members threatenedpolice action if the dissenters did not leave the meeting. ThoughCrain left the meeting, several people were arrested for staying.

"The room was just jammed," Crain said about theMay 1998 meeting.