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Censored Auburn Student Shares Story with ‘Plainsman’

For weeks now, FIRE has been fighting for free speech at Auburn University, which continues to maintain an unwise and illiberal ban on window hangings in its dorms despite ample evidence pointing to its uneven enforcement of the policy. Now student Eric Philips—who came to FIRE after being forced to remove a banner supporting Ron Paul's presidential candidacy from his window—has told his story to Auburn's student newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman.

As Philips relates to the Plainsman:

"Well, I noticed everybody else hanging banners, at least in the sororities and some people inside my dorm with Auburn banners in their window," Philips said. "There's a sorority literally right across from me, right across the sidewalk. I look out my window and for all of October I saw this huge Halloween banner that was three times the size of my Ron Paul banner."

"I figured there's no rules against it, and as an effort to help support Ron Paul's campaign, me and three other people purchased a Ron Paul banner to hang up in my window."

Auburn's policy banning "[h]anging or displaying items such as flags, banners, decals, or signs out of or obstructing residence hall windows," was adopted in summer 2011. But, as Philips and FIRE have pointed out, it has hardly been evenly enforced:

"[O]bviously they don't enforce that policy completely," Philips said. "You know, you can walk around The Hill and even see girls putting their sororities up in their window and ‘let it snow' in their window. There's even in my own dorm, there's a picture of a skull, or a decal of a skull, in the window."

Torch readers can view the extent of this double standard here.

The Plainsman also takes note of FIRE's continued involvement with Philips' case, and our efforts to make speech more free for all students at Auburn. This is very much Philips' goal as well.

"I don't want to make people take their banners down, but I just want to be able to express my support for Ron Paul as a presidential candidate just as well as people express their support for Auburn football or sororities or socials that are coming up," Philips said. "So I just want to be able to equally express myself."

We're glad to see that Auburn's student newspaper has taken note of this ongoing injustice. Hopefully Auburn students reading this article will take note as well, and tell the Auburn administration to end these restrictions on their right to free speech. Auburn students—and anyone else concerned for free speech on campus—can speak up by writing to Auburn President Jay Gogue here.

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