At Southern Methodist University (SMU), the school's Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter requested the use of Dallas Hall Lawn, a popular section on campus, to host the organization's annual 9/11 Never Forget Project as it has for the last two years.
YAF's Never Forget Project involves placing 2,977 American flags in the ground to represent each person who lost their life in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In response, the school said the chapter could host its project, but not at Dallas Hall Lawn. Instead, SMU said it would have to use MoMac Park, a much less visited part of campus. The reason why is because the school has recently changed its policies for that part of campus.
The email sent to YAF explained that while the school respects the group's right to have a memorial lawn display, it also respects the right of all other students to avoid messages that are “triggering, harmful, or harassing,” according to Campus Reform.
“The administration's changing of locations to MoMac Park is solely intended to reduce foot traffic for any display our organizations put up. Less foot traffic means less complaints from students, faculty and local residents who are 'triggered' and 'offended' by the displays,” Drew Wicker, president of the SMU College Republicans, told Campus Reform.
“This is the administration choosing to do the easy thing instead of making the hard choice and doing the right thing for the university and its students,” Wicker added.
Other groups on campus have voiced their opposition to the college's sudden policy change:
In response to the backlash the school is now facing, SMU has changed the wording of the policy, but the policy itself is the same. The American flags will still be placed at MoMac Park, according to Dallas News:
“SMU respects the rights of all campus community members to express their opinions, as well as their right to be free from coercion and harassment,” the school wrote, in part. “The policy has been further updated to better reflect this balance and to remove the poor wording regarding triggering or harmful messages.”
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