The Ohio University American Civil Liberties Union Student Group held an event Tuesday evening and discussed students’ right to protest.

The event featured Athens City Councilman Pat McGee, I-At Large. McGee is the managing attorney of the Center for Student Legal Services. McGee represented 65 of the 70 students arrested last February in the Baker Center protest. 

The event aimed to educate students about their right to protest, Gabrielle Tharp, events manager for the OU ACLU Student Group, said. 

“I think we really wanted to get the word out about (students’) rights,” Tharp said. “It’s not to criticize the (Freedom of Expression) policy, but rather to inform on what they can and cannot do.”

The interim "Freedom of Expression" policy was adopted in August and renewed in February. It prohibits “demonstrations, rallies, public speech-making, picketing, sit-ins, marches, protests and similar assemblies” inside university buildings. Students have the right to reserve spaces to protest, according to a previous Post report. The Ohio ACLU, along with many others, condemned the policy

McGee discussed three different instances of students being arrested for protests, including the Baker 70. He talked about what rights students have when protesting on campus and why those students were arrested. 

In Athens, protesters must pay an insurance bond to protest on the street. Public spaces like College Green are “established forums” and are legal to use as a space for protest if no one is being disturbed, McGee said.  

McGee said protesting should come from a desire to make change.

“I think if your goal is to change something, then you really need to study how to do it and ask yourself the question over and over again, ‘Are you in it for the long haul?’” McGee said.


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