Education

Southern Methodist University Reverses Decision To Ban 9/11 Memorial On Lawn

Southern Methodist University reversed a decision Wednesday to ban the display of a 9/11 memorial on the campus lawn, after getting pushback from students over the ban.

The university changed its policy regarding display locations after meeting with several student groups, according to The Daily Campus¬†and statements obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. Displays on the north end of the school’s Dallas Hall lawn can now last 1 day; those lasting up to 3 days can occupy the south side of the lawn.

“I thank the students from across campus who came together in the spirit of mutual respect and civil discourse to achieve this outcome,” said R. Gerald Turner, SMU’s president, to The Daily Campus. “Throughout these discussions, students have expressed their commitment to freedom of expression — a value the University shares.”

A July 2017 version of SMU’s display policy instructed students to “avoid¬†messages that are triggering, harmful, or harassing” on Dallas Hall lawn. The school later revised the policy to extract this language, but also mandated the erection of displays at a location that student groups alleged was less prominent than Dallas Hall lawn. (RELATED: College Relocates 9/11 Memorial After ‘Triggering, Harmful Or Harassing’ Speech Policy)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told Turner on August 2 to restore the 9/11 display, which consists of nearly 3,000 American flags to honor those slain in the terrorist attack, to its “appropriate and traditional place of honor.”

“We are pleased and grateful that in this verbal agreement the University has conceded its restrictive policy limiting the freedom of student expression at the heart of our campus,” said Drew Wicker, president of SMU’s College Republicans, in a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This represents a landmark victory for the free speech rights of the entire SMU student body.”

Wicker’s College Republicans was one of several parties that petitioned the school to change the policy. SMU’s College Democrats, Mustangs for Life, Feminist Equality Movement, and Turning Point USA chapter also participated in the effort.

“We are proud that our coalition of student organizations has worked together, despite political differences, to stand and win for the unifying and American value of freedom of expression,” said Wicker.

TheDCNF reached out to SMU for comment, but received none in time for publication.

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