Consequences For The Ping Pong Ball Drop

Marcus Michelen (BSE ‘14)

On December 3, 2013 students from all three schools dropped over 2,000 ping pong balls down the Grand Staircase in protest of the proposed changes to the Code of Conduct. While the event did not injure anyone, five students were called to a judiciary hearing by Campus-Wide Safety Coordinator Alan Wolf. In a judiciary hearing, the accused are brought before a panel of three students—one from each school—and two administrators along with the complainant. This panel decides the punishment given to the accused.

Two of the students—Maja Griffin and Martina Cox, both Art ‘17— accepted 50 hours of community service as a punishment, rather than having to attend the judiciary hearing. Two other students—Harrison Cullen (BSE ‘15) and Pete Halupka (Art ‘15)—attended the hearing and received 45 hours of disciplinary probation. The fifth student, Aaron Kuhn (Art ‘14), did not take part in the action and was falsely accused of doing so by complainant Wolf. In a statement made public by Kuhn, the student stated: “I wasn’t anywhere near the site of the incident when it happened. I had nothing to do with it actively or passively. Actually, I wish I had.” Kuhn later speculated as to why Wolf named him as a participant, listing one of the possibilities as “The administration is devoting so much time and energy to collaring and penalizing students for what was indeed a very silly and harmless action that they, in their exhaustion, have hallucinated my presence in the security footage.”

In a statement read aloud at the judiciary hearing, Harrison Cullen notes that he and Pete Halupka “have prepared a petition to which thirty-seven members of the Cooper Union community have attached their signatures, thus formalizing their own involvement in the ping pong ball drop.” In his statement, Cullen took issue to Wolf’s complaints and questioned the Safety Coordinator’s motives: “While it is possible that Alan Wolf’s accusations are founded upon sincere concern for the students of the Cooper Union, his recent history as Campus-Wide Safety Coordinator contradicts this notion.” Cullen cites Wolf’s involvement in “restrict[ing] access to restrooms and water fountains while simultaneously blocking fire exits with private security guards, which occurred last May during the occupation” among other incidents. In a similar statement read aloud, Halupka closed with a statement to Cooper students: “We have to be reminded of what we value before we stand up for it. You compose this place. I was reminded looking at my peers in the hearing today that the students united will never be defeated.” ◊

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