The YAL chapter at Troy University recently hosted a protest for free speech on the main quad right out in front of the administration building. The goal of the event was to help raise awareness about the free speech zone on campus as well as to promote a culture of free speech among students.
Our YAL members wore bright yellow shirts in which we invited students to write on them. The main topic of discussion was “What do you most dislike about Troy University or its policies?” However, given the nature of free speech, we did not want to limit our student body to a simple topic, so they were also informed that they could share whatever else was on their minds as well.
After they wrote their message, we handed them a “free speech citation” to let them know that they were technically violating a University policy by expressing themselves at this location. Several of them got a kick out of this, and it also helped to foster a discussion about what the University’s role in regards to speech should be. All in all, we received a very positive response from the student body, as evidenced by the large number of messages left on our clothing.
In addition, our local CBS affiliate, WAKA Channel 8 News
, was on site to cover the event. The reporter on hand gathered interviews from the administration, the student body, and our members concerning the status of free speech at Troy. Interestingly enough, the administration denied the existence of a free speech zone on campus, even though it is clearly outlined in The Oracle
, the student handbook for Troy University.
Instead, they offered one of the paradoxically good policies that the university does have—a commitment to the exercise of free speech. The irony rests in the fact that Troy University currently holds a “red light” rating from FIRE
, due to the existence of a free speech zone and some very strict policies regarding harassment.
In any case, hopefully this event and others will help to draw attention to the issue of free speech here at Troy and contribute to the repeal of such unconstitutional policies.