New poster and free speech policy implemented

Free speech and political correctness were topics at the forefront of the debate sparked by controversial posters put up by Young Americans for Freedom. Photo credit to dailykos.com

Posters displayed by the Young Americans for Freedom caused controversy and debate over free speech and political correctness. Photo credit to dailykos.com

By Kayla Britt, News Editor

Over the past few weeks the Student Life Committee reviewed the existing Freedom of Expression/Posting Policy on the basis of policies at other colleges and thorough discussion within the SLC. On April 7, the new Commitment to Freedom of Expression and Civil Discourse Policy was approved, and it is now available on the Gettysburg College website. The highlights of the policy were sent out in an email by Dean Ramsey.

“The members of the Student Life Committee had a strong consensus about the way in which the policy might be developed–I think the issues are challenging, but in that sense coming to a decision was not difficult,” said Dean Ramsey.

“The goal is to articulate the core principles around freedom of expression and civil discourse. The College always wants to make those points about what we care about. My hope is that it gets people to pay attention to how what they post affects other people.”

Although there was a policy in place to address the issue of poster and flyers being posted around campus, the new policy takes into account recent developments to be more comprehensive. “You write something, and it does not address a certain situation or issue–so, it was time for a revision. The policy had not been revised in quite some time,” said Dean Ramsey.

The SLC, which is composed of three students, three faculty and four administrators, aimed to do several things: acknowledge that sometimes there are going to be things posted that are offensive to other people and put constraints on size, shape and distribution of posted material. It is important for students to voice opinions and concerns, but there are parameters within.

Although these new policy changes focus mainly on posters, with some information regarding chalking and physical demonstrations, there will need to be more work done related to harassment and the way written expression can have an impact. The current policy focuses on harassment in the context of verbal expression. “How the SLC wants to approach that will be more difficult,” said Dean Ramsey.

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