Helping each other
Amendment of expressive activity policies was long overdue
In a university setting, it's not unusual for students to have concerns about policies or to disagree with administration on certain issues. In fact, these differences can be beneficial to harboring a more inclusive campus environment for students, faculty and staff. But in order to turn criticism into growth, both parties have to be constructive in working together to accommodate a change that will work for everyone.
Recently, the Grand Valley State University chapter of Turning Point USA ran into what they thought was a violation of their free speech rights when they were asked to move their demonstrations to one of the designated free speech zones on campus. The members of the organization decided the university's policies regarding free speech zones infringed upon their First Amendment rights and limited how they could express their opinions on campus.
We commend Turning Point for promoting awareness about individuals' free speech rights and ultimately bringing about the amendment of policies that were previously too restrictive in the eyes of the students. We also commend GVSU for working with Turning Point to settle the dispute and do right by its students in easing the regulation of expressive activities.
As a university that values diversity in many forms, from ethnic to religious to gender-based, GVSU must not neglect to value diversity of thought as well. One key way to do this is to promote and protect free speech on campus. Thankfully, GVSU's new policies regulating expressive activities do a better job than their old counterparts that limited certain activities to distinct zones on campus.
We encourage students to read the new “Grounds- and Facility-Use Policy" and take advantage of their free speech rights on campus. Peacefully demonstrate, protest and speak. Usually, if you see a problem with the campus community, someone else is experiencing it too.
But remember, just as you have the right to protest and vocalize your thoughts and opinions on hot topics happening locally and nationally, that means other people do as well. Be respectful toward people who may be expressing different opinions than you. It can be hard, we know. However, everyone who visits our campus and students who go here should be treated with respect, no matter their views.
Instead of looking at situations as students versus administration, we should be focusing on what we can do for each other. Students aren't perfect and neither is GVSU, and it's up to both sides of the story to take the time to see how we can solve a problem because, after all, we're all just trying to make GVSU the best it can be.