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

"Once they saw Will was my son," says Glenn Hudson, "they kind of distanced themselves from me. I did not know William was doing any of this stuff until I saw him in Austin."

The next day back at TSU, Glenn Hudson says his boss called him aside after work and asked the father to write a letter to Slade apologizing for his son's behavior for stirring up problems on campus.

"I was told my job was contingent on writing this letter of apology," says Glenn Hudson. "So, the next day I gave them my letter of resignation because I was not going to give William over to them. I can always find another job, but this is my son forever and I would not give William up."

Photographs by Daniel Kramer
Justin Jordan
Photographs by Daniel Kramer
Justin Jordan

For the TSU Three, this was only the start of their troubles.

"At the very beginning, when we first found the payroll papers and realized where they were taking us," says William Hudson, "we all got on the phone together. Oliver was at home getting ready to go to sleep, I was at home and Justin was driving on the freeway. And Oliver said, 'Well, you know what we're up against, and a criminal is a criminal and there's no telling what they're capable of doing. This could ruin our college record, land us in jail or worse. Are you willing to die and stand up for what you believe in?' And we all said, 'Yes.'"

In continuing their crusade, Hudson and Jordan began passing out flyers in late February 2005 questioning the university's employment of Jew Don Boney Jr. Boney was serving as associate director of the Mickey Leland Center on World Hunger and Peace, and is a former Houston city councilmember, mayor pro-tem and human rights activist.

The four-page flyer accused TSU of paying Boney $75,000 a year despite the fact that he does not have a college degree, a seemingly harmless offense given Boney's extensive record of service. The flyer also included a copy of Boney's payroll record, displaying his payroll identification number made up in part of his social security number, and an internal university document highlighting Boney's name and ID number, which Boney claimed was the same as his social security number. When contacted by the Press, Boney declined to comment.

On March 2, 2005, arrest warrants were issued for Hudson and Jordan in Harris County on the charge of fraudulent use or possession of identifying information, based on the strength of a statement of probable cause signed by TSU campus police.

As soon as the warrants were issued, a campus police officer who was friends with Glenn Hudson called the father to let him know his son was a wanted man. Glenn Hudson says he immediately got hold of a bail bondsman and before the students were ever taken into custody, posted their bond. That night, Hudson and Jordan walked into the county jail, were fingerprinted, booked and released on bond. The very next morning, State District Court Judge Don Stricklin dismissed the charges as unfounded.

"When they tried to put us in jail," says Jordan, "that was the most traumatic moment of all because that let me know this was bigger than we thought and they were really coming after us."

It didn't end there.

Brown says that the university placed him on probation after an incident in which then-student government president Greg Taylor accused Brown of verbally threatening him, charges Brown still denies. (Taylor declined to comment to the Press on the incident.) Jordan says he was also put on probation, charged with intentional physical or mental harm and forgery, stemming from the Boney flyers. Jordan says he was forced to resign as freshman class president and Brown says he was barred from running for school president. In the end, Jordan was allowed to appeal his sentence and did so, successfully, while Brown says he was prohibited from appealing and was required to have campus police escort him to and from classes.

Meanwhile, Hudson had a run-in with an administrator that months later resulted in the university suspending him for a year. According to documents filed on behalf of the university in the three students' lawsuit, Hudson was at a meeting with Wiggins when Hudson became angry and began yelling, prompting Wiggins to call campus police and have Hudson removed. Hudson does not deny this, but says he was there trying to voice what he felt were valid concerns over a faculty member's salary and Wiggins was refusing to answer. As a result, the university charged Hudson with insubordination, campus disturbance and intentional mental or physical harm. Suspended from school, Hudson says he was no longer allowed on campus without a police escort.

In addition, says Glenn Hudson, the university wanted the family to repay the financial aid his son had been lent before they would release his transcript, keeping him from taking classes at another college during his suspension.

"They held his transcript hostage until I finally paid them," says Glenn Hudson. His son did eventually take classes at Houston Community College during his suspension.

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