The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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YCT stresses importance of free speech

As president of the SMU chapter of the Young Conservatives ofTexas, Brad Julsonnet is on a mission to protect First Amendmentrights for students. He and the other members of YCT want SMUstudents to feel free to express themselves.

To encourage freedom of speech, YCT members will be on the westbridge of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center today between 10 a.m. and4 p.m., handing out fliers to accompany 25 stake signs scatteredacross campus.

YCT stresses the importance of being able to use symbolic speechto express opinions.

The signs show two images, one of a burning American flag andthe other of a burning cross. According to Isaac Shutt, YCT’sambassador to the university, although this type of speech isunpopular and widely offensive, it is Constitutionally protectedand incredibly important.

Andy Hemming, a first-year business and philosophy double majorand diversity chair for YCT, supports First Amendment freedomscompletely. “Although I may not agree with everything peoplehave to say, you can’t limit their freedom of speech —my freedom of speech might someday be taken,” he said.

According to Julsonnet, the fliers and signs are designed todraw students to YCT’s booth at the student center.

Anyone offended by the signs is encouraged to stop by the boothfor in-depth information and examples regarding free speech and itslimitations at other universities.

Brainwashing 101, a DVD about liberal bias in higher education,will play on a laptop during the display.

“We want to address the limitation of free speech oncampus and to encourage students to have their voices heard,”Julsonnet said, “and in this case we are leaning more towardthe conservative voice.”

Coincidentally, today marks the one-year anniversary ofYCT’s affirmative action bake sale.

“Free speech protects unpopular voices. Yes, we offendedpeople, but it was within our rights,” Julsonnet said.

The University of Michigan, UCLA and UC-Berkeley conducted bakesales with no consequences. The SMU chapter of YCT was the onlychapter to have its bake sale shut down. According to Dee Siscoe,assistant vice president for student affairs, last year’sbake sale was shutdown because it was a “safetyconcern.”

“Free speech is what a university is all about,”Siscoe said.

“Administrators are finally realizing that the sky willnot fall when they allow students to exercise their First Amendmentand free-speech rights,” said Greg Lukianoff, director oflegal and public advocacy for the Foundation of Individual Rightsin Education. “The universities just could not justify theirarguments that the ‘affirmative action bake sales’ didnot constitute protected political speech.”

According to YCT, it’s important to recognize all aspectsof free speech, even the unpopular views.

Celeste Kinney, a senior at SMU who witnessed the bake sale lastyear, said the young conservatives are “attempting to causecontroversy because if they were trying to initiate some type ofchange they would be at the steps of the Blanton building and notthe steps of the student center.”

Even though any registered student organization with properapproval has the right to reserve a table and promote events orideas, it is possible that this table could be a safety concernagain.

SMU’s bylaws regarding harassment were changed this year.Section 3.14a states, “Due to the University’scommitment of Freedom of Speech and expression, harassment is morethan insensitivity or conduct that offends or creates anuncomfortable situation for certain members of thecommunity.”

“The SMU bylaws present a model for free speech,”Julsonnett said.

YCT’s display praises SMU for adamantly supporting freespeech while condemning other universities for limiting free speechrights.

“[The bylaws] should be a model on all collegecampuses,” he said. “We feel we should give SMU creditwhere it’s due.”

Hemming makes sure the organization looks at all sides of anissue.

“Although we have only four African-American members, westrongly encourage minority recruitment and welcome students fromall cultures and backgrounds,” he said.

To emphasize diversity, YCT’s display features an examplefor the University of Texas-Austin where a black man walked ontothe UT campus carrying a Confederate flag as a symbol of freespeech. He was escorted off campus by UT security.

“We should be able to discuss issues openly to broaden ourhorizons and expose our differences,” Samara Mele, senioreconomics major and social chair of YCT said.

Another example featured on the display comes from EmoryUniversity in Georgia where the Student Senate revoked $5,000intended to fund a conservative speaker.

According to FrontPageMagazine.com, “speakers on the leftare welcomed while conservatives require strict securitymeasures… This environment – so one-sided thatstudents censor themselves for fear of harassment or retribution– is exactly what parents, donors, and taxpayers do notexpect to receive for their education dollars.”

Denver Nicks, president of SMU Democrats, states that they have”no concrete plans to react to YCT’s confrontationalprotest, but we, as Democrats, certainly understand the importanceof educating voters and discussing issues in a dignifiedway.”

Young Conservatives of Texas meets at 8:30 p.m. Monday inHughes-Trigg portico C.

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