To the Editor:
A recent article discussed the planned Free Expression Zone that would be a partnership between the Emory Administration and the Student Government Association (SGA). This is a problematic idea that should be rejected. As a university and a place of critical inquiry and learning, Emory should be committed to fostering open and free speech throughout the entire campus, not sequestering it into one small area.
It’s alarming that the College Dean of Students Bridget Guernsey Riordan was quoted in the article as having said, “We thought, ‘Where would be a good place if someone wanted a place on campus to talk openly?’” The answer to that question is everywhere.
By delineating a minuscule portion of campus where free expression will be tolerated, the Administration and SGA send a clear message that this sort of speech and dialogue is unwelcome on the rest of campus. Emory should not go on the record specifically creating a policy designed to suppress speech throughout all but a limited portion of campus. University policy states that “The University places a very high value on freedom of speech,” but if that is the case, then there should be no need to designate one small area as being open to such speech. Furthermore, SGA President Adam McCall works to undercut even the limited usefulness of this free expression zone by voicing concern that “hateful” speech would potentially not be allowed.
The principle of free speech is crucially important for protecting speech that some people might feel is hateful. Attempting to determine which speech is considered hateful and must be censored defeats the purpose of such a zone.
If the university administration is interested in a zone where free expression should be allowed, we already have one. It’s called the United States of America.
3rd Year Political Science Graduate Student