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Students Claim FAU President Saunders Hit Student Protester With Car

Update, 4:24 p.m.: Lisa Metcalf, Director, Media Relations & University Spokesperson for FAU wrote in an e-mail "Police were on the scene at the time of the alleged incident. We are not going to comment until the investigation is complete."

The University Press tweeted an image of Saunders driving her car today here. 

At noon, students involved with Stop Owlcatraz -- the movement to halt Florida Atlantic University's naming of its stadium after private prison operator GEO Group -- contacted New Times to report that student leader Britni Hiatt had been struck, though only slightly injured, by FAU President Mary Jane Saunders' 2011 Lexus GS as Saunders was leaving a meeting today.

Students said a report was being filed with campus police. New Times contacted the police department, which referred us to media relations, which has yet to comment on the matter. FAU's student newspaper is reporting that the incident was corroborated by three witnesses.

Hiatt was among students involved in a silent protest of the GEO deal at FAU's Jupiter campus this morning.

The University Press, via Twitter, quotes a student, Lucas Ortiz, as saying Saunders "made no attempt to stop."

According to Saunders' 2010 five-year employment agreement, she makes $345,000 ($12,000 less than her predecessor, Frank Brogan) and is eligible for a $50,000 merit bonus each year. She also gets insurance and retirement benefits and free housing. Her contract says the Board of Trustees "shall use its best efforts to cause the FAU Foundation to provide Dr. Saunders with use of a suitable full-size automoblie to be provided, insured, and maintained by the FAU Foundation" and that the vehicle be replaced every three years.

Saunders is in a tough spot as students complain about the GEO deal, yet as this graph shows, public universities in Florida have had budgets slashed 41.2 percent since just 2008.

Not the greatest week for FAU; another student claimed he was suspended for refusing to step on a piece of paper that said "Jesus."

We will update as more info becomes available.

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