Saunders accident victim wants medical bills paid, accepts FAU graduate school admission

Dylan Bouscher

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Student protestors yell at President Mary Jane Saunders while she attempts to back out of a parking spot on the Jupiter campus on March 22. Students were protesting a donation to FAU by private prison operator GEO Group in exchange for stadium naming rights. The GEO Group later rescinded the donation. Photo courtesy of Leslie Nelao

Student protestors yell at President Mary Jane Saunders while she attempts to back out of a parking spot on the Jupiter campus on March 22. Students were protesting a donation to FAU by private prison operator GEO Group in exchange for stadium naming rights. The GEO Group later rescinded the donation. Photo courtesy of Leslie Nelao

Graduate Britni Hiatt has moved on since being struck by former FAU President Mary Jane Saunders’ car more than a month ago.

Hiatt, a Women’s Studies major, graduated last month with her Bachelor’s degree. A homemade red cord hung from her neck, which 20 other students in her 3,148-large graduating class also wore.

These were graduating members of “FAU Voices,” the group formerly known as the Stop Owlcatraz Coalition. Last semester, the group successfully protested the university’s $6 million deal to rename the football stadium after a private prison company.

Now, Hiatt has been accepted to the university’s Graduate program for Women’s Studies, as well as being offered a teacher’s assistant position.

And since the March 22 accident, Hiatt has started attending psychotherapeutic sessions and been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Hiatt, who is not taking any medication for her PTSD, has reportedly experienced stress, depression, flashbacks, and difficulty sleeping as symptoms of her condition.

Hiatt’s attorney James Gitkin sent a letter to Saunders’ insurance company before Saunders resigned, asking to be reimbursed for all medical expenses related to the accident. According to Hiatt, her medical expenses are around $500.

“Mary Jane Saunders, your insured and the President of Florida Atlantic University, negligently operated her vehicle,” Gitkin wrote. “Striking Ms. Hiatt as a pedestrian as Ms. Hiatt was trying to peacefully inquire about suspect university practices.”

The May 9 letter gave Traveler’s Insurance 30 days to respond, but as of publication time there has been no response, according to Hiatt. Before sending the letter, the New Times Broward/Palm Beach reported faculty members joined Hiatt’s parents and asked Saunders to apologize for the accident.

Britni Hiatt, a senior women's studies major, has asked President Mary Jane Saunders' insurance company to pay for her medical expenses after she was allegedly struck by Saunders' vehicle during a March 22 protest on the Jupiter campus. Photo courtesy of Britni Hiatt

Britni Hiatt, a senior women’s studies major, has asked President Mary Jane Saunders’ insurance company to pay for her medical expenses after she was allegedly struck by Saunders’ vehicle during a March 22 protest on the Jupiter campus. Photo courtesy of Britni Hiatt

The UP reached out to FAU’s Vice President of Communications and Marketing Scott Silversten and Traveler’s Insurance for comment, but as of publication time, they could not be reached.

“Good leaders are accountable for their actions,” Hiatt said. “On top of President Saunders’ unwillingness to take accountability, there’s also the investigation of not only myself, but six other FAU students.”

After Hiatt was hit by Saunders’ vehicle during a student protest, and after Saunders drove away from the scene of the accident, FAU administrators opened an investigation against Hiatt and other student protesters who filed witness statements.

“The FAU administration has a history of not protecting its students and faculty, and instead neglecting these unsafe situations and deflecting accountability for the actions they do take,” Hiatt said, referring to administrators’ ignoring death threats one FAU student received after being investigated, and ignoring requests for a restraining order against former U.S. Congressman Allen West after he warned FAU student protesters.

“These are not isolated circumstances, and the response from the administration has been a pattern of neglect and deferral.”

Check Upressonline.com and follow @Upressonline on Twitter to stay up-to-date on Saunders’ resignation, and Hiatt’s accident.