Morgan Freeman, a student at Sam Houston State University and leader of the SHSU Lovers of Liberty, writes today on the Students for Liberty blog about her group’s experience with Kafkaesque campus censorship. As we reported on The Torch last week, when a professor took a box cutter to the group’s free speech wall, they reported his vandalism to campus police-who then threatened the students with a misdemeanor charge.
This incident is not the first time that a free speech wall on campus has sparked controversy. In the 2010-2011 school year, FIRE reported on two other incidents involving free speech walls: one wall torn down by a disgruntled student at Pepperdine University, and another threatened by a professor at the University of Texas San Antonio (luckily, this professor did not bring a box cutter to back up his threats).
FIRE is still waiting for a satisfactory response to our letter to SHSU President Dana L. Gibson (she has said that the matter is "under investigation"), but in the meantime, SHSU students are not taking the censorship lying down. Freeman writes:
It is not a good feeling to watch the free expression of your fellow students taken away because someone disagrees with their message. It is a violation of their rights, and a threat to the rights of everyone else at our university.
But it did happen to us, and we are not taking it lightly. We will stand up for the rights of all students at Sam Houston State to speak their minds, to criticize their elected officials, and to engage in the debate and discourse that an institution of higher education deserves.
This article is a powerful reminder that students can and should fight back against censorship, and Freeman’s statement is exactly the kind of informed student response that FIRE’s Campus Freedom Network (CFN) was founded to promote. I highly recommend reading her article in full.
TAKE ACTION: Demand SHSU respect free speech on campus by writing to President Gibson today.