Letter to the Editor: Free Speech on the ADams State Campus

Lace King
The Paw Print
Savannah Schlaufman wrote an article titled “Free Speech on Campus” for last week’s edition of the Paw Print. The article details her dissatisfaction with the individuals who successfully brought awareness and positive change to the proposed poster policy. She also supports the authors of the policy, making a case for their innocence. A few glaring fallacies in her article deserve to be addressed.
Schlaufman first suggests that the purpose of the original version of the proposed policy is to “help with the over-clutter of outdated posters on bulletin boards everywhere.” She goes on to say that regardless of what the poster policy actually says, she believes its authors never intended to censor any speech. In an attempt to fit the policy to her beliefs, Schlaufman quotes the policy out of context in her third paragraph: “The phrase [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.’” Based on the way Schlaufman presents the policy, there is hardly anything wrong with it, for it merely says that students are welcome to post about campus events if they would like to.
She omits a crucial line from the policy, however, and it’s the line that triggered the protestors’ rage: “There shall be no posting … except as provided above.” It’s not that the policy as written is offering a few suggestions of what campus members may want to advertise, as Schlaufman suggests. Rather, students will only be allowed to post about campus-sponsored events if the original version of the proposed policy passes.
Schlaufman’s confusion on the matter evidences itself throughout her article. “The intent of [the controversial part of the poster policy] was to include all subject matter that the author thought should go up on posters around campus. …Do I believe the authors of this policy sought out to maliciously violate my rights? No.” But with a bit of critical thinking, it is easy to see the incongruity between the claims expressed in these two statements. The intent she contends the authors had is exactly what the students are afraid of, for it indicates that administration will censor that which is outside the bounds of what they think deserves to be posted. And yet, she continues to insist the authors of the policy are innocent and censorship was never their intention. Face it, this policy was created to censor you, and that is exactly what it will do if passed as originally written.
Schlaufman eventually admits she agrees with the protestors, saying the policy “…has flaws, serious flaws that violate my Constitutional rights.” And yet, her entire article criticizes the protestors standing up for her rights. To paraphrase just a few of her claims: The protests lack student involvement. The protestors are not passionate about their rights. They probably will not utilize their rights. They are upset over nothing; the authors of the policy won’t take away anyone’s rights even though the policy says they will. They found out about it from Dr. Mazel rather than somehow finding out before he (and the rest of the faculty and administration) did.
We are left to assume that Schlaufman agrees that the text of the proposed policy does, in fact, threaten her First Amendment rights, but that she believes this is not important, because the authors of the policy did not mean what they wrote. She insinuates that students protesting the potential violation of their rights are pretty much laughable, and yet she writes, “I rather [sic] see students [being proactive] rather than [sitting] back and [complaining] after it was done with.”
Fortunately for Schlaufman and the rest of the campus, the work of the protestors is paying off. It looks like the policy authors won’t be infringing on our rights any time soon, but not exactly for the reasons Schlaufman laid out. Luckily for uninterested students as well as the rest of us, the Senate committee reviewing the poster policy has proposed changes that would remove the censoring language in its entirety, and these changes are awaiting Faculty Senate approval.

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