Fox News Radio and other outlets are reporting an unfortunate and, as Gina’s blog of earlier today shows, all too common instance of student-led censorship. At DePaul University, the campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (with university permission) erected a pro-life display consisting of 500 small blue and pink flags. As Fox reports, “The flags represented the number of unborn children aborted every day.”
When YAF members went to check on their display toward the end of the day, however, they found that some DePaul students had taken the liberty of getting an early start on cleaning up the grounds. That, of course, is me being mock-charitable: Students unwilling to tolerate the display’s pro-life message had torn up the flags and dumped them in trash cans around campus, as photos show.
For the moment, at least, DePaul seems to be taking the matter seriously. As Fox reports:
“They had been thrown and stuffed into various trash cans outside the library,” Edwards said. “If this happens on the largest Catholic university campus in our nation — it can happen anywhere.”
University spokesperson Cindy Lawson told Fox News they are investigating the vandalism and are attempting to find out who is responsible. She could not confirm the exact number of flags that were destroyed.
YAF’s website also reports that public safety officials at DePaul are reviewing footage of students allegedly caught on tape vandalizing the display.
This investigation is a positive first step. Whatever happens to the students involved in the vandalism, if they can be identified, DePaul—which, as a private institution, does make promises of free speech to its students—must quickly and publicly denounce this act of vandalism and make clear that such behavior is unacceptable at DePaul and incompatible with the free speech ideals it espouses. To not do so risks conferring legitimacy on the thuggish and cowardly methods used to censor YAF’s expression. This is something that DePaul, which already has a woeful record on free speech, can hardly afford.
FIRE is in contact with the DePaul YAF chapter and will report back as necessary.