The Paw Print
Free speech has become a hot button issue around campus lately. What started off as a simple policy to help with the over clutter of outdated posters on bulletin boards everywhere, has escalated into all out warfare against the AS&F Senate. The problem with the outcry against the policy, is ironically the lack of student involvement and student protest.
My problem with the protest against the Poster Policy, is that I don’t think many students who are getting all worked up about it, are even that passionate about what they are defending. How many students who were angry with Senate, or who posted “Fuck Censorship!” online and around campus, actually took the time to learn the facts about the policy and what exactly the controversy was about?
The phrase in the proposed policy, the one that has everyone talking, states that posters on campus can advertise “a campus-sponsored event and products or services sought or offered by members of the campus community.” The intent of this statement was to include all subject matter that the author thought should go up in posters around campus. It was to be more inclusive, not to exclude political opinion. Due to a little over-wordiness and over specifying on the part of the author, technically the poster restricts poster content, but I don’t believe that was the intent of the policy.
Do I believe that the Poster Policy as written has flaws, serious flaws that violate my Constitutional rights as a student? Yes, but do I believe the authors of this policy maliciously sought out to violate my rights? No. Currently, Senate is being proactive about the problem that exists. Senate formed a committee especially for the purpose of reviewing and making changes to the Poster Policy before it is approved. I’d be willing to bet that most students don’t even realize that this policy has just been proposed, and is not even in affect yet.
The primary argument against the policy is that it censors political free speech, but when exactly was the last time you saw a poster advocating political views that students put up? I’m not saying that this right shouldn’t be protected if its not being exercised, but think about what you’re defending. How exactly do you expect Senate, or anyone for that matter, to take your claims seriously if you are fighting for a right you don’t even utilize?
Its easy to join the Anti-Poster policy brigade if a member of the ASC Faculty already did the research and made the argument for you, but isn’t that counter to what you’re advocating in the first place? If students are so concerned about their Constitutional right to free speech, why was it that Dr. Mazel was the one writing articles about the Poster Policy and appearing before Senate? Where was all the student concern then?
I commend Dr. Mazel for his effots in making sure that a policy that infringed upon student’s rights didn’t go into effect, but if you are defending student’s free speech, it seems counterproductive to speak on behalf of the students.
If more students, the very same students who claim to be so passionately behind the cause, you champions of free speech, actually got involved in the process, maybe problems like this wouldn’t occur. A student, and not AS&F Senate member, was appointed to the Committee reviewing the Poster Policy, because he felt like he could contribute to remaking the policy. He stepped up during the process, rather than sat back and complained after it was done with. I rather see that then have to hear about how your rights were violated after the fact.
For any students still seeking to put input into the new Poster Policy that AS&F Senate will be voting on in October, you are welcome to email AS&F Senate at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact any member of the Poster Policy subcommittee. While you might not agree with my opinion, yours deserves to be heard and put into action, and isn’t that what you were advocating to begin with?