Page 9 - IU Southeast 2012 Fall Mag Web

IU Southeast
Fall 2012 7
Indiana University Southeast agrees that a college campus
should be an open forum for free speech, opinion, and critical
thought; but it should also be a safe place for the students,
faculty, and staff who study, work, and live there.
Recently, IU Southeast’s guidelines for free speech came
under fire - from FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights
in Education.
IU Southeast was the focus of a recent blog post from the
organization, which presents itself as a watchdog of free
speech on college campuses. According to their website,
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation whose mission
is to defend and sustain individual rights including freedom
of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and
sanctity of conscience at America’s colleges and universities.
The blog post emphasized IU Southeast’s strong Code of
Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct but took
particular issue with the University’s posted “Guidelines for
Free Speech.”
The guidelines in question address the issue of assembling
on campus and were directed at outside groups visiting
IU Southeast. However, FIRE’s interpretation was that
the University was infringing upon the rights of students
to speak their minds anywhere on campus, including the
classroom. (Prior to the article from FIRE, IU Southeast had
not received a complaint from any student concerning the
ability to assemble and speak freely on campus.)
The author of the FIRE article, Samantha Harris, wrote
According to the plain language of this policy, students
may only ‘express opinions’ within the free speech zone. IU
Southeast] almost certainly doesn’t mean this — technically,
if you want to tell your friend that you think it’s hot outside,
you have to go to the zone to do it…”
IU Southeast’s intent was not to stifle free speech, and
certainly the guidelines were never intended to govern
discussion in the classroom. They were put in place to
provide direction for assembling on campus so that those
wishing to gather and express an opinion could do so without
endangering people or property.
In reviewing the guidelines as they were written, University
administration could see how that intent could be
misinterpreted by some.
The guidelines in question were simply an attempt to
protect the rights of our students to have unfettered access
to educational facilities and activities on campus,” said IU
Southeast Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Anne
Skuce. “In other words, the exercises of free speech and
freedom to assemble should not result in blocking access
to buildings, disrupting classes, or interfering with campus
events. However, we are using the recent interest as an
opportunity to re-examine the guidelines, which have not
been reviewed since 2004.”
As a result of the conversation surrounding this topic, the
University drafted new guidelines for assembly on campus
and put them in place at the start of the fall 2012 semester.
The new guidelines for assembly on campus address the
safety concerns without unduly restricting the constitutional
right of free expression.
IU Southeast values free speech,” IU Southeast Chancellor
Sandra R. Patterson-Randles said. “The criticism of our
previous plan allowed us to create better guidelines that
continue to protect our students while encouraging freedom
of expression for all those on campus.”
Protestors demonstrate in McCullough Plaza at IU Southeast.