FAU President Mary Jane Saunders allegedly clips Owlcatraz student protester with her car
March 22, 2013
An FAU student protesting the university’s recent stadium naming rights agreement with a private prison company was allegedly clipped by FAU President Mary Jane Saunders’ car as she was leaving the Jupiter campus this morning. Saunders was leaving a “coffee with faculty” event on the campus when student protesters surrounded her car, according to multiple witnesses.
Senior women’s studies major Britni Hiatt woke up nervous about a class presentation due at noon. The accident happened at 11:30 a.m.
Hiatt, a member of the Stop Owlcatraz Coalition, was standing in Parking Lot 70, near the Student Resources Building, when the right side of her waist was struck by the passenger side, rear-view mirror of Saunders’ silver Lexus GS.
According to several student protesters who witnessed the accident, the mirror flipped inward and Saunders sped off.
“There is a bruise and it does burn a little still,” Hiatt told the UP. “It was very red at the time of impact.”
Hiatt reported no other injuries and refused to be transported by ambulance when police arrived. Before she was hit, Hiatt and the group of protesters followed Saunders as police escorted her via golf cart from the building entrance to her car.
“The cops were there all along telling us to get away from her, which is what I was doing when I was hit,” Hiatt said. “So I was complying with the police, and then the police immediately asked me ‘why I was in the parking lot to begin with’ then basically giving me the rhetoric of ‘I was asking for it.’”
Police told Hiatt there is no video surveillance of the parking lot she was hit in, according to a status she posted on Facebook shortly after the accident. There were, however, several witnesses and students nearby.
Lucas Ortiz, an Honors College senior mathematics major, was standing less than five feet away from Saunders’ vehicle when the accident occurred. “She made no attempt to stop,” he said. “[Saunders] could have avoided this entire thing.”
Cate Armuelles, a junior women’s studies major, was also standing in front of Saunders’ car when the accident occurred. “All of a sudden I heard a thud, then I saw Britni [Hiatt] keeled over in pain.”
The UP attempted to contact FAU police, who forwarded the UP to Media Relations.
“FAU Police were on the scene at the time of the alleged incident,” FAU Director of Media Relations Lisa Metcalf emailed the UP. “We are not going to comment until the investigation is complete.”
Hiatt’s mother, Faith Hiatt, issued a statement demanding an apology:
“I am disturbed and outraged to my core that the president of the very university that my husband and I pay thousands and thousands of dollars to hit my daughter with her car and sped off without a pause or thought for anyone but herself. This thoughtless, selfish act should at least result in an apology and at best her arrest. But also, is this the kind of person that should be president of any university? Where are her priorities? This school was presented to the parents as a safe environment, and even the campus police are covering for this cowardice act. Shame on all of you! Shame! This is not the end from me, believe this!”