SPOKANE, Wash. - Supporters of suspended Washington State University football player Robert Barber plan a show of support Friday, as WSU's Board of Regents meets in Pullman.
Barber was suspended through the actions of the Student Conduct Board, stemming from his role in a fight over the summer. In a video of the fight, Barber is one of several people throwing punches. A man Barber punched suffered a concussion in the melee. Pullman Police recommended Barber be charged with assault, but the Whitman County Prosecutor has yet to file charges in the case.
For weeks, Barber's suspension has been the source of controversy and frustration. Most of the criticism has been directed at the Student Conduct Board, which does not allow a student to have legal representation at the hearing. Others say WSU is unfairly targeting and discriminating against Barber, pointing out that the senior from American Samoa speaks English as his second language and may not have fully understood the proceedings.
Friday, a group plans to present thousands of signatures to the Board of Regents, asking the university to lift his suspension. Led by a group of Cougar football moms, they plan to deliver the signatures during the board's public comment period. The university expects there could be so many people hoping to comment, they could move the meeting to a ballroom in the Compton Union Building to accommodate everyone.
Throughout the process, WSU President Kirk Schulz has been largely quiet about the process. He's been attacked repeatedly on Twitter from alumni and WSU supporters who have threatened to pull donations and support of the university unless the student conduct board process is examined or eliminated.
President Schulz said in a tweet Thursday, "I will provide public comments and respond to Q&A on issues surrounding WSU Student Conduct Board tomorrow at WSU Regents meeting."
Barber's attorneys hope to hold a hearing soon on their request for a judge to lift Barber's suspension and let him return to school and to the football team. They claim the board was unfair to Barber and called its actions "an openly mean-spirited effort to ruin Barber's life."
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