Students across the political spectrum at Southern Methodist University (SMU) have teamed up to fight the school’s ban on a “triggering” 9/11 memorial display, which has relegated the flags to an obscure section of campus.
In a rare show of bipartisan support, the school’s chapters of Young Americans for Freedom, Mustangs for Life, College Republicans, Turning Point USA, College Democrats, and Feminist Equality Movement have announced their vehement opposition to the school’s policy. A joint letter by the clubs addressed to SMU President Turner calls the policy “disappointing” and “dangerous to our university’s academic environment.”
“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,” the letter explains. “In choosing to view these displays as such, SMU is deviating from its call as a center of higher learning. Its mission is to be a place where ideas are challenged and intellect thrives, not a place to hide or silence alternative points of view.”
Despite massive public outrage, including a letter from Texas Governor Greg Abbott to SMU President Turner which pleads for the memorial to remain at the center of campus, the school has refused to budge on its policy.
“I ask that the 9/11 display not be relegated to a far corner of campus,” said Gov. Greg Abbott. “It should be celebrated in its heart.”
In a statement provided to Red Alert Politics, SMU College Democrats President Matthew Lucci asked the school to reverse the decision, claiming “restrictions on free expressions hurt both the quality of education, and the quality of student life as a whole.”
“The primary purpose of an institution of higher education is to educate students for experiences in the world after graduation,” Lucci continued. “It is my belief that the free exercise of discourse and open demonstration on college campuses is essential to achieving that goal. Student organizations utilize the space in front of Dallas Hall to supplement the educational curriculum of SMU, and to present topics of discussion to the student body. Removing this privilege will only serve to restrict the educational possibilities of SMU students and diminish the quality of the SMU experience. As such, I heavily encourage the administration of Southern Methodist University to reconsider their decision on this matter.”
“This is not, and should not, be a partisan or political issue,” Andrew Wicker, President of the SMU College Republicans told Red Alert Politics. “Freedom of Speech is a guaranteed right to the people of this great country, and with that right being under attack at University campuses across the nation; we feel it is important that as College Republicans and College Democrats, conservatives and liberals alike, we stand for the protection of these rights for our fellow students.”
“We love our school, and because of that, we refuse to let SMU go the way of UC Berkeley, Evergreen College or Middlebury,” Wicker said.