In late July, the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter at Southern Methodist University (SMU) had requested to place its annual 9/11 Never Forget Project in the same place on campus that it has hosted it for the past two years, Dallas Hall Lawn.
The project involves placing 2,977 American flags in the ground to represent each person who lost their life during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
SMU responded by stating it had just recently changed its policy to prohibit messages of any kind on this prominent part of campus because the school respects the rights of all other students to avoid messages that are “triggering, harmful, or harassing.” It also said it had to do with a lack of space, despite it being a large and open area.
An alternative, less visited part of campus was offered.
A bipartisan effort from all groups on campus opposed SMU's new policy, including Turning Point USA at SMU, College Republicans, College Democrats, Feminist Equality Movement, and Mustangs for Life.
After the backlash, SMU recently announced it has revised its policy so that all displays will be able to use Dallas Hall Lawn. According to The Daily Campus, the school's newspaper, an SMU spokesman said the original policy language did not go through the “proper vetting process.”
In a press release, SMU said the new agreement will ensure there is enough room for displays:
“This agreement provides dedicated spaces for lawn displays while also preserving open spaces for studying, classes, events and recreation. The goal is to balance the needs of all campus community members in use of this historic space.”
“I thank the students from across campus who came together in the spirit of mutual respect and civil discourse to achieve this outcome,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said. “Throughout these discussions, students have expressed their commitment to freedom of expression – a value the University shares.”
Grant Wolf, chairman and founder of the YAF chapter at SMU, told Independent Journal Review this was not a fight against SMU, but it was a fight for the United States.
“SMU Young Americans for Freedom and its supporting coalition of student organizations has won a landmark victory for the First Amendment and free speech rights of the entire SMU community. We did not fight against our University. We fought for America. And America won,” he said.