Free Speech

We will not have Ripped From the Headlines this week since there is no class during Week 7, so I thought it would be a good idea to share a headline and reflect on my own time. I could not figure out how to pull the video from this news story. Please read for context.

Denver University has a free speech wall, which allows students to share ideas and spark dialogue. Recently, some racially-charged messages have appeared on the wall. Students feel unsafe and threatened.

I learned about this happening from a post that my good childhood friend shared on Facebook. She is a DU alumna, and was very upset by the writings. The post she shared on Facebook had some interesting comments from current students and alumni. The President of the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at DU commented on the post, inviting everyone to a meeting to discuss the messages. He also noted that someone from his organization was the one who wrote the messages on the wall, and that, although those messages were not written on behalf of Young Americans for Freedom, he supports the member’s right to free speech.

What?! Does he understand what he is supporting? Yes, we should fight for our rights, but we should not support the abuse of those rights. The BLM movement is both a hot topic and very current event. It is a sensitive time for many students and individuals who might feel threatened or unsafe. We should not have to walk on eggshells; we should not have to wake up to this type of defacement.

Seems like alumni were not surprised by this event, which leads me to believe that DU has a feeling/culture that has yet to be addressed.

The University responded to the free-speech wall writings with this message. I’m not even sure how the University should respond. So my thoughts on this letter are simply that I am glad a response exists. The letter included a link to upcoming events and resources to continue the dialogue. I think those spaces are great. But are they enough? And who is facilitating these programs?

I’m just pretty shocked at how relevant this story is to our current studies and readings. I find the wall to be another unique way to create dialogue. But I’m sad that these racially-charged messages are the reason why these programs now exist. Would these spaces and conversations be there without the defacement of the wall?

I suppose we need to consider how to approach something like this before it happens. At the same time, we should not have to worry about something like this happening. Perhaps I’m mostly shocked at how my friend feels affected by this even after graduating from the institution. I feel, to some extent, obligated to address this for her. If something like this happened at my alma mater, then I would hope others would spread awareness, too.

I tend to learn about what’s happening in the world from my family and friends. I like that I can rely on class discussions and Facebook for news. Part of me sharing this is to build my own awareness about the importance of staying current on current events. Consider this post a baby step–I hope that you all will continue to challenge me.

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