Four graduate students at Stony Brook University have sued university and SUNY officials, saying they were deprived of the right of free speech when they were barred from the inauguration of Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., who became president last October.
The students maintain they were kept out because of their union T-shirts.
Students Kira Schuman, Kevin Young, Katarzyna Sawicka and Jacqueline Wood, who also teach, say the event was open to the public with no dress code.
Jim McAsey, organizing director for the union, which represents about 1,700 graduate student employees at the university, said the suit is part of the union's dispute with the university over "having a fair contract for livable wages."
Young has pledged to donate his award, if any, to a nonprofit group that helps low-income undocumented immigrants hoping to attend college.
Stony Brook spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow said in an e-mail, "The filings are under review and will be responded to appropriately in court."