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A Vanderbilt University student is crying out online after being arrested and expelled for ‘shoving a staff member’ and breaking in to a building to stage an anti-Israel sit-in.

Jack Petocz, 19, was one of four students arrested at a student-led sit-in at Kirkland Hall at Vanderbilt University’s campus in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 26. 

Video footage released by Vanderbilt captured the students rushing into Kirkland Hall, pushing past a lone security officer who appears to be attempting to secure the building. 

The school identified the three students arrested for assault and bodily injury – which is classified as a misdemeanor – as senior Devron Burks, first-year Jack Petocz and sophomore Samuel Schulman. 

Petocz, who describes himself as a ’19 y/o homosexual with a megaphone,’ took to X to whine about the severity of the university’s response. 

Vanderbilt student, 19, moans after being arrested and expelled ‘for shoving staff member and breaking into building to stage anti-Israel sit-in’

Petocz, who describes himself as a ’19 y/o homosexual with a megaphone,’ took to X to whine about the severity of the university’s response after he was arrested and expelled for ‘shoving a staff member’ and ‘breaking in to a building to stage an anti-Israel sit-in’

X edited his post, adding 'a community note' to add more context

X edited his post, adding ‘a community note’ to add more context

Security footage released by the university shows a mob pushing past a lone security guard on March 26. Schulman and Burks are seen at the front of the group walking forward to enter Kirkland Hall as the officer attempts to stop them while Petocz can be seen behind them

Security footage released by the university shows a mob pushing past a lone security guard on March 26. Schulman and Burks are seen at the front of the group walking forward to enter Kirkland Hall as the officer attempts to stop them while Petocz can be seen behind them

‘I’m Jack Petocz, a 19 y/o activist that’s been fighting for marginalized people for years,’ he wrote. ‘Yesterday, I was expelled from Vanderbilt University for peacefully protesting the genocide in Palestine. Vanderbilt will let sexual assaulters walk free, but expel passionate organize.’

X edited his post, adding ‘a community note’ which read: ‘As part of the protest, Jack Petocz was arrested and is facing misdemeanor charges of assault and bodily injury to another after allegedly pushing a community services officer.’ The message included a link to coverage of the incident as reported by JNS

Petocz later replied: ‘The community note on this post is patently false. I did not touch a community service officer, nor am I anywhere near the individual in the video. I’d implore you to trust a student activist over rich, powerful, white men, but that’s your choice. More information will come.’

But users were quick to slam Petocz in the comments, calling him out for the hypocritical nature of his statement. 

‘Aren’t you white too going to an expensive college?’ one wrote. 

‘Said the rich, privileged, sniveling white boy,’ another user chimed in. 

‘You’re on tape,’ another reminded the freshman.  

Schulman and Burks are seen on camera at the front of the group walking forward to enter Kirkland Hall as the officer attempts to stop them while Petocz can be seen behind them. 

Petocz is being held at a $2,000 bond, while Schulman and Burks are being held at a $1,000 bond.

They took control of the building, but many allege that campus police locked them in as a pressure tactic

They took control of the building, but many allege that campus police locked them in as a pressure tactic

The demonstration, organized by the Vanderbilt Divest Coalition, aimed to compel the university to stop funding organizations that support Israel

The demonstration, organized by the Vanderbilt Divest Coalition, aimed to compel the university to stop funding organizations that support Israel

In addition to the three students who have been expelled, one was suspended, and 22 issued disciplinary probations after a week of preliminary hearings involving the 27 students suspended for their involvement in the sit-in protest at Kirkland Hall. 

The demonstration, organized by the Vanderbilt Divest Coalition, aimed to compel the university to stop funding organizations that support Israel.

Masked mobs attempted to organize a vote for an amendment to the Vanderbilt student government’s constitution.

Security footage released by the 151-year-old university shows a swarm of protestors pushing past a lone security guard at the front door of the building on March 26, where Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier’s office is located. 

They took control of the building, but many allege that campus police locked them in as a pressure tactic.   

The sit-in began after the university’s administration refused to allow students to vote on changing the student government’s constitution to prevent funds from being spent on the protestors targets. 

Videos taken from inside the building, shared to social media, showed them sitting on the floor linking arms and taunting campus security

Videos taken from inside the building, shared to social media, showed them sitting on the floor linking arms and taunting campus security

Protestors said that once they were inside, they were forcibly prevented from leaving. Videos taken from inside the building, shared to social media, showed them sitting on the floor linking arms and taunting campus security. 

In one video, protestors were heard telling one police officer, who is black: ‘You are black in America, and you’re NOT standing with the marginalized people of the world. What does that make you?’

‘32,000 dead and you don’t care. You could stand with us and be on the right side of history, but you won’t.’

The protestors then screamed ‘shame’ at him. 

But as the protest carried on into the night, many wanted to leave for medical reasons. 

One video shared to social media showed a protestor calling 911, claiming they were worried that if they went outside they’d be arrested, but that if they stayed inside they’d go into ‘toxic shock.’

They said: ‘There’s currently a female student being denied the right to change her tampon that has been in for multiple hours, which leads to an increased risk of toxic shock syndrome.

‘If she stands up to use the restroom to change her tampon, [campus police] are threatening arrest, so it’s not an option for her.’

‘Student Affairs staff took a graduated approach to de-escalate the situation,’ the University statement said. ‘First, they asked students to leave. After the students refused to leave, staff made them aware their actions violated university policy and that they would be subject to disciplinary action. 

‘After several hours, the university began issuing interim suspensions. Students on interim suspension must leave campus immediately and may not return until further notice, pending the Student Affairs review process.’

In response to the incident, a spokesperson for Vanderbilt University confirmed the institution’s commitment to taking action when policies are violated, community safety is jeopardized, or members are intimidated or harmed.

The university emphasized the importance of civil discourse and free expression but said that breaching the building during the sit-in would result in interim suspension for all involved.

Protestors said that once they were inside, they were forcibly prevented from leaving

Protestors said that once they were inside, they were forcibly prevented from leaving

A Vanderbilt spokesperson said that ‘the university will take action when our policies are violated, the safety of our campus is jeopardized and when people intimidate or injure members of our community.’

Provost C. Cybele Raver, in an email to the Vanderbilt community on April 5, announced that students have a 10-day window to appeal their cases, during which they will retain access to campus and university resources.

In an open letter addressed to Chancellor Daniel Diermeier, Raver, alongside the Office of General Counsel and Faculty Senate President Andrea Capizzi, criticized the administration’s actions in March, including the distribution of interim suspensions to student protesters. 

The letter, signed by 154 professors at the time of publication, denounces what they perceive as an overly punitive response by the university.



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