After Controversial Demonstrations, Texas A&M to Hold Free Speech Workshop

By: Ashlea Sigman Email
By: Ashlea Sigman Email

Administrators at Texas A&M University are concerned not all students understand the first amendment. Its the freedom of speech the University wants to make sure students are better acquainted with, so its holding a free speech workshop, in January.

"The title will be, "just because you can, should you?" said Carol Binzer, Director of Student Life.

According to Binzer, the workshop was requested by President Elsa Murano, after free speech demonstrations at Rudder Plaza, like an Obama Circus, put on by student group the Young Conservatives of Texas.

"Other community members really were hurt by it and offended," said Binzer. "It seemed contrary to some of the values we have for respecting diversity and appreciating difference."

When it comes to free speech, Binzer says the university is caught in a balancing act.

"Two very separate messages, protecting the opportunity and right for everybody to express their freedom, not always liking the message or tone of message, and even disappointed when a group might choose to deliver their message or make their point in a way that is offensive or hurtful to large members of their community," said Binzer.

Administrators are hoping the workshop encourages students to use their freedoms responsibly, "and with a sensitivity for all their audiences," said Binzer.

"By the same token, don't want to protect people from being offended cause its so subjective," said Binzer.

The workshop won't just educate students on their rights, but also the university's role.

"How I and administrators as government employees at a public institution could not possibly stop free speech, even if we wanted to, and we don't want to," said Binzer.

However, after campus demonstrations around election time, According to Binzer, the university was asked to do just that

"I don't want people to sound ignorant by saying government should make them be quiet," said Binzer.

Instead, administrators are hoping to arm students with other tactics, like debate, or ignoring demonstrations all together, something several hundred students didn't do, during the Obama circus.

"Some people who were offended by it, stayed all afternoon, as opposed to walking by," said Binzer.

The University hasn't nailed down an exact date, but administrators say the workshop will be held during the week of January 26th.

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