State University Library Bans American Pride Stickers

October 24, 2001

State university library bans American pride
stickers

FORT MYERS — While many Americans display patriotic
messages in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks, librarians at
one Florida university have been hushed.

Library Director Cathy Hoeth told her staff not to
wear "I’m proud to be an American" stickers because they might
offend the 200 foreign students at Florida Gulf Coast University in
Fort Myers.

That policy may violate the staff’s rights to free
speech, said Randall Marshall, legal director for the American Civil
Liberties Union of Florida.

"The problem is that employees don’t give up their
constitutional rights merely because they’re in their work place,"
Marshall told the Naples Daily News. "There is a balance to be
struck here between the right of individuals to express themselves
and the orderly operation of the public employer’s business."

Hoeth said staff members could put the stickers on
computers or in their cubicles. But she asked them not to wear them
at the reference desk where the stickers could offend library
users.

"We’re doing everything we can to meet FGCU’s
standards of civility and tolerance," Hoeth said. "As a librarian, I
want the highest respect for everyone coming to the desk."

She prefers staff wear ribbons or flags without
printed words on them, said Provost Brad Bartel.

The policy was a "judgment call" by the library
director, Bartel said, because the school had no previous policies
on this issue.

Copyright 2001 WTSP-TV, Associated Press. All Rights
Reserved.

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Schools: Florida Gulf Coast University