Southern Methodist University will not budge on its decision to move a 9/11 memorial – ignoring the urgings of students, alumni and even the governor of Texas.
The private university generated national controversy after it banned the Young Americans for Freedom chapter from posting nearly 3,000 American flags on a prominent campus lawn.
“This display is not political. It is not partisan. It is not controversial. This is about our nation united,” Gov. Greg Abbott wrote in a letter to SMU President R. Gerald Turner.
The Dallas Morning News first obtained a copy of the correspondence.
“Each flag represents a life taken, the soul of a family destroyed,” the governor wrote. ‘Yet each flag also represents a symbol of hope, for as a people united we remain unbowed.”
But SMU remains unbowed in its decision to relocate all lawn memorials to what students called a less-prominent campus location.
The university had objected to the location of the display, citing a revised policy aimed at protecting students from “harmful or triggering” messages.
The school revised the revised language of the policy earlier this week – removing the words “harmful or triggering.”
“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,” SMU spokesman Kent Best told me.
The university also said its decision was based on the fact that some classes are held outside on the lawn.
The Dallas Hall Lawn had long been a gathering place for memorial displays – without any objections from the university.
Grant Wolf, the leader of SMU’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter, told me the university permitted them to display their 9/11 memorial for the past two years.
But he suspects the policy was changed because of a controversy surrounding the school’s pro-life group. Last year, Mustangs for Life filled the lawn with thousands of crosses to symbolize children lost to abortion. The outrage from pro-abortion activists was considerable.
“Someone had clearly been offended and complained and the university caved to their pressure,” Wolf told The Todd Starnes Show.
The university stressed that the policy change had nothing to do with the 9/11 memorial – but Wolf is not buying their argument.
“The policy specifically referenced displays that contained crosses or flags,” he told me. “They essentially argued that crosses and flags were too offensive and triggering to be displayed on the center lawn.”
Southern Methodist University seems to believe that free speech must be muted to prevent a college snowflake from being offended. That belief is not only unconstitutional, it is also un-American.
It’s unfortunate SMU refused to listen to the sound reasoning of Young Americans for Freedom and Gov. Abbott. Perhaps the university will consider listening to the deep pockets of their donors and alumni instead?
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