MARCH 21, 2007
Under pressure from a conservative free-speech group, a public university has reneged on punishing students for holding an anti-terrorism rally in which they stomped on Hezbollah and Hamas flags.
The victory is rare for conservatives in the ultra liberal arena of higher education, but nevertheless welcome. The students, members of the San Francisco State University College Republicans, were under threat of suspension and had been accused of hateful religious intolerance, racism and inciting violence for hosting the rally last October.
Organizers were also accused by college officials and various student organizations of creating a hostile environment. In fact, members of the traditional liberal student clubs – such as Students
Against the War and the International Socialist Organization – accused the conservative students of being racists.
Their fate has for months been up in the air as university officials and members of the student government pondered suspension. An organization that defends conservative free speech in higher education advocated for the accused students, pointing out that they were practicing their constitutionally guaranteed right to free expression and that the school was shamefully attacking it. No American public institution can lawfully prosecute students for engaging in political protest, the group said.
This week the university’s president finally issued a written confirmation that the protestors would not be punished because there was in fact no violation of the student code of conduct. He also called “unacceptable” the amount of time that elapsed between the lodging of the complaint and its resolution.
One newspaper columnist wonders what is being taught at San Francisco State University that makes student leaders think they can stifle dissenting views. Do they even know about the First Amendment?
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