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YAL challenges USA’s policy on free speech

Members+of+YAL+protested+on+campus+on+Sept.+26.+
Members of YAL protested on campus on Sept. 26.

Members of YAL protested on campus on Sept. 26.

Briana Cunningham

Briana Cunningham

Members of YAL protested on campus on Sept. 26.

Carleigh Lloyd, Contributing Writer

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The University of South Alabama Young Americans for Liberty chapter hosted its first of many free speech events this week on Tuesday, September 26.

YAL’s goal is to educate the student body regarding the USA policies regarding free speech.   

“These policies, or speech codes, are outdated and unconstitutional; they put certain students in a position to be oppressed, as the University administration arbitrarily chooses to which students these policies apply,” said Alice Bessette, Vice President of the USA chapter of YAL.

“We are out here constructing a dialogue and educating students about these issues,” Alex Staudt, YAL’s National Director of Free Speech said. “These are issues that affect every student on campus.”

Indeed, restricted free speech can affect what a student can say in the classroom or promote on campus, everything from handing out pocket Constitutions to bringing controversial speakers on campus.

“For example, USA mandates that fliers be approved prior to distribution on campus. This is a form of prior restraint which has never been upheld in the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court of the United States,” Staudt said.

USA does not have dedicated free speech zones but rather  areas zoned by administration for free speech activities.

Other codes include a specified list of areas USA students or employees are prohibited from what USA’s student handbook, The Lowdown, calls “expressive activities.” The Lowdown states that these areas include those “between the street side of University buildings and facilities on the periphery of campus from the portal of North Drive to the corner of campus at Old Shell Road and University Boulevard and to the portal of Stadium Drive and the public sidewalks, areas within one hundred feet of academic buildings or residential housing buildings, Mitchell Center and grounds, Moulton Tower and Alumni Plaza, and USA Health System’s Hospitals, Clinics and grounds, with the exception of public streets and sidewalks at those facilities.”

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education rating system, USA’s policies are restrictive because “Any expressive activity beyond the Student Center will require that the University be able to identify the University individual or organization involved and that person or organization must abide by these regulations.”

FIRE states that its mission “is to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. FIRE’s core mission is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them.”

YAL will host another Free Speech event on Tuesday October 3 from 1:30-4:00 p.m. in the Student Center Lobby, as well as a follow up meeting on Thursday, October 5 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. in the Student Center Room 254.

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1 Comment

One Response to “YAL challenges USA’s policy on free speech”

  1. Diogenes Teufelsdrockh on October 3rd, 2017 5:06 pm

    Please everyone keep in mind that this group exists ONLY to promote hate speech in the name of “free speech” in hopes of bringing promoters of hate and division to campus such as Milo and other assorted goons sympathetic to the KKK and white supremacy. These people do not believe in higher education – only the proliferation of hateful opinions masquerading as “fact” or shoved in our faces in the name of “dialogue” – their goal is to spread ignorance, and they would not shed a tear if every reputable university in the United States closed shop tomorrow.
    Do not be fooled by them.

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YAL challenges USA’s policy on free speech