With protestors on campus, UW-River Falls students urged to remember First Amendment
September 20, 2012
The hot topic around UW-River Falls the past two weeks has been the protestors on campus. It’s safe to say that everyone noticed the protestors and responded in some way.
While many did not agree with what was being spoken, or how it was being demonstrated, that does not mean these people shouldn’t be allowed on our campus.
UWRF is a public university, which means all of the grounds on campus are open to the public. This, of course, means that anyone outside on campus falls under the protection of the First Amendment, which includes freedom of speech.
Whether or not we agree with the protestors, they have just as much right to be stating their beliefs on campus as we do.
Of course, freedom of speech, does not mean anyone can say anything they want. We all know the cliche saying, “You can’t yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theatre” and it certainly applies here. If you do not agree with what the protestors are saying, it doesn’t give you the right to verbally abuse them.
Whether it be political or religious beliefs, these protestors are representing something. But what are our students representing when they return obscenity fi lled retorts at the protestors?
First and foremost, students are representing UWRF itself. These people are not going to distinguish between on student and another. If a few students verbally abuse the protestors, which was happening, they will remember those students, above others, and associate UWRF with them.
Some readers may be aware that a picture, with a message that some could fi nd offensive, from the protestors on September 11 went viral over this past week. Because of this, thousands of people now associate that picture with our University. It might be unreasonable and unfair, but it’s true.
The UWRF Mission Statement says, “We commit to a community of mutual respect, professional behavior, academic freedom and appreciation of individual differences and rich cultural diversity.” While the protestors were on campus there was certainly not much respect or professional behavior being shown by our student body.
We at the Student Voice are not saying the protestors were right or wrong in what they were saying. We simply urge students to be respectful towards others on campus.
If you don’t agree then either ignore them or engage them in a civil argument, but don’t just yell obscenities at them and keep walking. You never know who is watching and listening to you yell these things at people on campus.
Remember you are not only representing UWRF, but yourself as well.