Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas has banned a memorial to 9/11 victims from its campus, according to The Washington Post. The service, which has been held on SMU’s campus in recent years, is now being forced to relocate far outside the university’s grounds. The administration cited their policy of banning “any type of visual recognition or commemoration of an event or political or social issue” on Dallas Hall Lawn. The sad part – they consider 9/11 a “political issue” instead of a day that usually brings Americans together.
SMU’s Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter was appalled after having their request denied for their annual display of flags honoring the victims of 9/11. The administration’s response? That SMU “respects the right of all members of the community to avoid messages that are triggering, harmful, or harassing.” Yes, you read that correctly– SMU banned remembering 9/11 victims on its campus in order for some students to avoid being “triggered”. The Young Americans for Freedom have been putting 2,997 American flags on campuses across the country to represent each of the lives taken on one of the most tragic days in the country’s history.
Although the university offered an alternative location for the 9/11 memorial, the response stimulated a conversation regarding first amendment rights for college students. In an open letter to SMU President R. Gerald Turner, several student groups on both sides of the aisle including the Young Americans for Freedom, College Democrats, College Republicans and the Feminist Equality Movement joined together in denouncing the university’s decision.
In the letter the authors penned “A flag memorial to honor those who lost their lives in the events of 9/11, or displays promoting the education and discussion of the pro-life, pro-choice movements among SMU students must not be viewed as attacks on others,” which was posted by Young Americans for Freedom on Facebook. “SMU is deviating from its call as a center of higher learning.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined the students appeal to Southern Methodist University, asking that they reverse the new policy decision to change the location of the memorial.
Censoring free speech is nothing new to modern day college campuses. In fact, it’s becoming quite the norm. Students with traditional values are silenced out of fear that it will lead to social isolation or even consequences on their transcripts. UC Berkeley, once known as ‘the Beacon of Free Speech’ has had to cancel several conservative speakers due to uncontrollable protests and fears of violence. It has even reached the point that congress held a hearing on the challenges to free speech on university campuses across America. Although what has been going on is despicable, Southern Methodist University took this growing problem to a whole new level.