Dr. David Mazel
The Paw Print
Freedom of speech is a core American value. College campuses in particular, because of their key role in the marketplace of ideas, have a responsibility to allow the free exchange of ideas.
That responsibility is enshrined by Adams State in its Vision Statement, which commits us to “embracing diversity of culture and ideas.” Any unnecessary restriction on campus speech goes against that vision.
Sad to say, however, ASC does unduly restrict speech. And if the AS&F Senate passes a newly proposed poster policy, the college will restrict speech even more.
That would be bad not only for you but for the college’s reputation. According to the national Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), ASC already has several policies that improperly infringe on your freedom of expression — enough to earn our fair campus a “red light” rating from FIRE. This rating basically means “If you care about your First Amendment rights, don’t enroll at ASC.” A red light from FIRE is a black eye for ASC.
Among the problematic policies already existing at ASC is one that prohibits “taking or posting of text messages/photographs/images of a sexual nature.” But guess what? If you’re an adult, the posting of provocative photos on Facebook is constitutionally protected speech. Facebooking yourself in a wet T-shirt might not be a good idea, but doing so is still your constitutionally protected right, and ASC should stop pretending otherwise.
Existing policies like the above are bad enough. The proposed poster policy threatens to abridge your rights even more. It would, for example, require you to obtain a stamp from the administration before you post a flyer on a bulletin board. Maybe it’s just the American in me, but the idea of asking for a government stamp of approval before tacking a flyer on a bulletin board definitely rubs me the wrong way.
Even worse, the policy would ban the posting of any materials except those relating to “a campus-sponsored event and products or services sought or offered by members of the campus community.” Think of all the things that would be banned because they are not related to “a campus-sponsored event and products or services sought or offered by members of the campus community.”
Event publicity? That’s okay. But political opinion? Nope!
Commercial advertising? Sure. Religious opinion? GTFO.
Want to put up a flyer reading “Dan Maes for Governor”?
Sorry. That would be banned.
A flyer reading “Support Gay Marriage”?
Not related to a campus event. Banned!
That’s right, folks. They want to ban Jesus!
Okay, I’m not saying the authors of the proposed poster policy actually want to ban Jesus. More likely they just haven’t thought this stuff through very well. Either way, the effect of the policy, as currently written, would be to censor lots of constitutionally protected expression. And for that reason it is absolutely unacceptable.
Fortunately, the obnoxious provisions of the proposed policy can easily be removed. If you’re interested in helping produce a policy ASC can be proud of, or just want to learn more, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re interested in expressing your feelings on this issue to the AS&F Senate, feel free to attend the next Senate meeting (6 p.m. in BUS 142).
If you’d just like to express your opinion on a campus bulletin board, just go ahead and do it.
While you still can.
By ortiveztm on September 8, 2010
Dr. David Mazel
Posted in Sports