We chose to take our prior post down out of respect for one of Liberty’s Deans. Luckily, the tone of this update is much more positive than our initial post.
Despite a bit of conflict, we had a generally productive Constitution Week. However, our Free Speech Wall led to the suspension of our club. We had faith that the administration would correct what we considered an overreaction on the part of a few individuals, and they did.
Here’s a recap of the events:
As a whole, our free speech wall went really well. We had a total of three free speech walls, but the most prominent was wrapped around a pillar in the middle of the hallway. As 8,000 students left from the Liberty University required convocation, they passed by a wall we had placed strategically in the middle of the hallway.
Messages on the wall varied. Some criticized the convocation speaker, and a few anonymously complimented themselves. The bulk of these messages responded to our two prompts: “What do you love about your country?” and “What do you hate about your government?”
While I was focused on what I like to call “my First Amendment sales-pitch,” I noticed the Student Government Vice President had stopped by my wall. He was on the phone, so I waited a moment and approached him when we finished.
We had a pretty civil conversation, but he mentioned that he had called Dr. Hine, the Senior Vice President of Student Affairs. Due to a marijuana reference, Dr. Hine demanded we take our free speech wall down. Allegedly, it violated the Liberty Way, our student code of conduct. Knowing that our school effectively bans on-campus petitions and demonstrations, I immediately complied with his direction.
The SGA Vice President asked us to tear down the most prominent free speech wall, and not the free speech wall behind our table. The SGA Vice president argued that the wall must be taken down because it violated our student code of conduct. Since the second wall had no controversial references, I made the decision to keep it up. The Vice President walked by a few times without commenting, and this seemed like a good indicator that the compromise was acceptable.
The next day, we put a new free speech wall behind our table that morning because the previous one had been removed when we cleaned our space at the end of the day. By the end of the day Thursday, our wall had multiple references to legalizing marijuana, in addition to a well-drawn picture. Despite a few stares from SGA officers, nothing significant happened.
Later that night, our YAL chapter President Eli McGowan received an email from the SGA President telling him that YAL was no longer allowed to promote on campus. Additionally, SGA filed charges against Eli.
Our chapter president worked with the Administration, and our issues were resolved two weeks later.
We are beyond thankful for their help and support.Published in