Group claims infringement of civil rights

Oklahoma State University O'Collegian/March 31, 1973

Prior to their knowledge that charges had been dismissed. Against them, six religious speakers arrested on trespassing charges at Oklahoma State March 30 released a statement Thursday outlining their reasons for being on campus and their possible future action.

District Attorney Charles Headrick filed a motion to dismiss charges at the request of OSU Legal Counselor Moses Frye. OSU President Robert B. Kamm said he approved dismissal of charges.

The group's statement referred to state laws and OSU regulations which "discriminate against the free exercise of faith and life in Christ.

Richard Harvey, the group's spokesman, said Thursday he had not been informed of the dismissal. He said he asked Director of Student Activities Jo Dorris Thursday afternoon if he could come on campus to give the O'Collegian the group's statement without trespassing. He said Dr. Dorris told him he could if he did not preach. Harvey said Dr. Dorris did not tell him at that time the charges had been dropped.

Dr. Dorris could not be reached for comment.

Frye said he requested charges be dropped, but would not say what university administrator asked him to make the request.

The statement, signed by the six religious leaders arrested, still stands despite the dismissal of charges, according to Harvey.

"These laws and regulations are being used unintentionally against us as well as other Christians, both students and non-students," the statement read.

OSU regulations require that non-campus groups must have university permission and be sponsored by a campus group to speak on campus.

Kamm said he doesn't feel OSU discriminates against the exercise of faith.

"Our campus promotes full expression of faith without disturbing and infringing on the rights of others. We have full religious freedom on campus. This action (the arrest) was taken only after a disturbance," he said.

"There was nothing to be gained after they were off campus, so charges were dropped," Kamm said.

"I would like to stress their points of view are welcome. I respect them for their thinking and support them in their expression and thought.

"They are welcome on the OSU campus but most operate in accordance with the rules and regulations designed to serve to the best the total student body," Kamm said.

In its statement the group further pointed out it does have a recourse available through the courts to change the laws in question, and if necessary, "we will use that recourse."

In an interview with the O'Collegian Thursday morning, Harvey said, "We're innocent. I don't think it (the case) will get out of district court."

The statement said the group did not consider itself part of the "Jesus Movement" prevalent in some parts of the country.

"We hold what may be called an historically fundamental belief in the Bible and we maintain a person is saved by placing his trust in Jesus Christ..."

The statement said the group desires the situation to be resolved quickly and with as little embarrassment as possible to the university. "The Supreme Court has found against universities on things like this," Harvey said.

Harvey emphasized he was not saying the university has already been brought to court on something like this, but prior Supreme Court decisions, which ones he did not say, are in his group's favor.

ALSO, HE said the group was not preaching Friday when arrested, but only talking to students and others who came to talk to them. He claims there were at least 10 other non-students there at the time who weren't arrested for trespassing.

"The university regulations say that you can't speak unless you're sponsored by a student organization, and they ask that you request to speak 10 days ahead of time. You have to consider the university refuses to recognize religious organizations because of state law so the chances of us being invited to speak are not very good," Harvey said.

Harvey said the regulations, when coupled with state law, "inhibit not only my freedom but also the freedom of students on campus."

He contends the regulations deprive him of his constitutional guarantees to freedom of religion and speech and by doing this, also deprive the students of their rights since they don't have the opportunity to hear religious speakers.

Harvey said he and the other five people arrested are "not here to rabble rouse."

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