On April 3, a Free Speech Wall built on the Quad by Students for Liberty and approved as a student event by Student Activities was taken down by Public Safety without customary consultation.
The usual protocol would be for Public Safety to consult with University Center and/or Student Activities prior to removing any structures associated with an approved event.
Campus Life staff has taken the necessary steps to ensure that the customary protocol is followed in the future.
In light of last week’s op-ed by Students for Liberty’s Alex McHugh, Student Activities thinks it is important to affirm the University’s commitment to freedom of expression and clarify the reasons for the conditions placed on reinstatement of the Free Speech Wall.
Student Activities’ expectation is that Students for Liberty, as the leaders of the event, will engage in dialogue with students about the purpose and content of the Free Speech Wall. Certain language and statements, although offensive to some, are protected. However, anonymous, derogatory statements about specifically named individual students are not.
To achieve their event objectives, Students for Liberty must staff the event in order to provide the campus community with the opportunity to engage in discourse about the purpose of the wall, importance of free speech and the content on the wall.
Alex McHugh makes excellent points that minority perspectives are often marginalized and therefore “silent,” and that is not specific to any college campus. Our responsibility as a campus community is to create an environment where students feel comfortable voicing their perspectives, and also to create a learning community where multiple perspectives are heard and can be challenged.
Alex McHugh wrote passionately about the importance of free speech to challenging our perspectives and considering different ways of thought. Face-to-face dialogue is essential to this process and to coupling freedom with responsibility.
Coordinator of Academic and Intercultural Programs