Priscilla Slade and the TSU Three

Spurred on by a fellow student's death, Oliver Brown, William Hudson and Justin Jordan ran a gauntlet on their way to bring down a president

Shortly after, says Brown, Slade requested a meeting with Jordan.

"Now, why would you call an 18-year-old kid into your office just for putting out a flyer asking for your resignation?" says Brown. "What is she worried about? To me, this was another sign that something was not right."

Hudson and Brown were not about to let Jordan face the president all by himself, so they accompanied their friend to the meeting with Slade.

Priscilla Slade and her attorney Mike DeGeurin received a mistrial their first time around.  Slade will be retried in March.
Daniel Kramer
Priscilla Slade and her attorney Mike DeGeurin received a mistrial their first time around. Slade will be retried in March.

"So," says Brown, "we are sitting in her office and she asks, 'Why do you want me to resign?'

"'Because you are not doing a good job,' Justin replied."

"'All these buildings being built, you don't call that doing a good job,' asked Dr. Slade."

"'No,' said Justin."

"'What can I do in order to make things better?'"

"And all Justin says is, 'Resign and leave,'" Brown recounts.

"At that point, I just looked at Justin and thought, 'Man, those are big balls.' I was even scared for him at that point. I was thinking, 'You are about to get slapped in here.' I started panicking and I was like, 'Tell her what needs to be done on campus.' And Justin goes, 'Nah, resign and leave, that's what you can do.' And he held his ground. Then he said, 'Thank you for your time,' got up out of his chair and walked out."

Two days later, Brown, Hudson and Jordan began a petition drive asking for Slade to step down. The media picked up on it and spread the news throughout Houston and the rest of the country.

Divergent views on the proposition to oust Slade began to polarize the campus, and the TSU Three were about to run into their first real test of character and moral fortitude.

"Some students feel they were wrong for what they did and some feel they did the correct thing," says current Student Government Association President Jasmine Pope. "I have heard some students say they should have tried to handle it a little different and that these things could've been handled in-house. But ­opinions differ greatly."

Greg Taylor, who was student president at the time of the petition, has no love for the TSU Three.

"These guys are just kind of on their own and do what they want to do and I believe a lot of it is just for attention," he says. "They did what they do, which is finding dirt on people and looking for the negatives instead of the positives. And every now and then they get lucky, I guess."

Says former regent J. Paul Johnson, "What I really wanted them to see more than anything was that the university is bigger than all of us. Because, when they graduate, the degree that they're going to graduate with is the same degree that has now been kind of blemished due to all of this."

Brown, Hudson and Jordan suddenly found themselves on the defensive for the first time. Hudson says there is a kind of systemic attitude at TSU that it is not acceptable to call into question the acts and decisions of fellow African-­Americans.

"I come from a multicultural background," says Hudson, "and I had a culture shock of what it meant to be black when I came to TSU. We were called traitors to our race and people said we were just out trying to make a name for ourselves instead of seeing that we were just trying to do the right thing. We had classmates that we thought were our friends acting like they didn't even know us, and it really hurt. We would go out somewhere and other blacks looked at us like we were the scum of the earth.

"A member of the Texas House of Representatives told me we were setting black people back. And all we were doing was what was morally, ethically and justifiably right. We were just trying to set the record straight for taxpayers across the state and for parents who were paying to send their children to college. We were just trying to say, 'Look, there's chaos and tyranny at TSU. And crime has no color.'"

The night before TSU Day at the State Legislature in February 2005, when university and state officials met in Austin to discuss the school, Hudson and Jordan stayed up all night at Hudson's parents' home secretly putting together handmade photocopied booklets describing the problems they believed existed at the university. They say they had been invited to attend the event by State Representative Terri Hodge, and planned on passing out the pamphlets.

During one of the meetings, say Hudson and Jordan, police escorted them from the conference room for causing an uproar, but the harsh effects of their "troublemaking" were not felt until the following day.

Hudson's father, Glenn, was employed at TSU as an academic adviser, and was also in Austin on TSU Day when he saw his son at the event. Glenn Hudson says he was socializing with several members of the university's administration when they saw the younger Hudson approach his father to say hello.

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