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Students turn in petitions, demand Whitmore response

October 20, 2003

By Sally Gunter at University Daily

Despite cancellation of a formal meeting with Texas Tech President Jon Whitmore, seven members of Students for Free Speech met Friday afternoon outside his office to turn in hundreds of signed petitions.

The group had a meeting scheduled with Whitmore last week, but it was cancelled Tuesday following Monday's media coverage of the campaign for additional petitions, said Brian Roa, a graduate student from Lubbock studying philosophy.

The university told Roa the meeting was cancelled because he had not followed the correct bureaucratic steps, Roa said.

Whitmore was unavailable for comment.

Beth Robinson, a senior human development and family studies major from Birmingham, read a prepared statement in response to the unwillingness of the university to cooperate with the rights of students.

According to the statement, Whitmore willingly chose not to show up to the meeting.

To ensure Whitmore receives and examines each petition, a special letter included in the box of petitions requests a public response from Whitmore.

"We demand that President Whitmore personally respond to this letter in the campus newspaper via an editorial within a week," Robinson said. "So that concerned students know you read their letters and understand their grievance."

One of the main arguments of the group is that Tech has a responsibility as a state institution that receives federal tax money to enforce the Constitution and not deny students their First Amendment rights.

Chief of Staff for the president's office Ron Phillips refused to hear the arguments of the group Friday. He did accept the box of petitions on behalf of Whitmore.

Roa gave Phillips an e-mail address to confirm that Whitmore received the formal requests.

On Monday, the Students for Free Speech passed the petitions out to students in the Stangel/Murdough dining hall. The group collected more than 350 student signed letters.

The petitions call for the university to change its free speech policies, eliminating the forum areas and creating a free speech campus. It said the university is hypocritical by teaching students a high work ethic, yet not upholding the same high standards for the administration... Download file "Students turn in petitions, demand Whitmore response"

Schools: Texas Tech University Cases: Texas Tech University: Speech Code Litigation