Last Friday, Ohio University announced in a news release that a new policy , demonstrations, sit-ins and more in university buildings. The policy states that students can reserve rooms inside to partake in “constitutionally protected speech” and also further defines disruptive conduct.
The change in policy comes because the university decided it was necessary to create a consistent policy after the events that took place in in August, according to a statement provided by OU Spokesman Dan Pittman. That, partnered with the lack of defined rules that caused confusion during the when the OU Police Department arrested 70 demonstrators, may give good reason for university administrators to feel a change is necessary.
The new policy, however, has appeared to some, including us, as limiting the freedoms of expression and speech on campus. OU has had a history of demonstrations, sit-ins and protests in university buildings, especially in recent years. Students protested the verdict in the Michael Brown case by in 2014. Students hosted a “die-in” in Cutler Hall in 2014 to protest the decision not to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner. And in Spring Semester, there was the aforementioned Baker sit-in.
All of those protests and demonstrations were peaceful, and most of them didn’t disrupted planned activities. But now they would no longer be allowed inside buildings.
We understand the need for a new policy to more clearly define rules and their repercussions, but we think this policy is too sweeping. And though limiting speech may not have been the intent, it comes across that way.
We, as an outlet that’s based on the foundation of freedom of speech, feel it’s especially important that students are able to voice their concerns in whatever way they feel conducive to their message. Not allowing them to do so in university facilities, especially in winter months, goes against any university’s values of supporting free speech and expression on campus.
The university needs to consult wider and find a less encompassing solution. It’s important that students’ voices are heard on this matter. It’s good that the university re-evaluated and saw the need to do this, too. More communication is the best way to come to a good solution.
All of the university senates have the opportunity to give feedback on the issue, so we encourage students to work with Student Senate and Graduate Student Senate and faculty members to work with Faculty Senate to bring forward any concerns or thoughts on the issue.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post's executive editors: editor-in-chief Elizabeth Backo, managing editor Kaitlin Coward, digital managing editor Hayley Harding and senior editor Marisa Fernandez. Post editorials are independent of the publication's news coverage.