Southern Methodist University has reversed a decision to ban the display of a 9/11 memorial on a campus lawn, after students objected.
The university changed its policy regarding display locations Wednesday after meeting with several student groups, according to The Daily Campus and statements obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. Displays on the north end of the school’s Dallas Hall lawn now may last one day; those lasting up to three days may occupy the south side of the lawn.
“I thank the students from across campus who came together in the spirit of mutual respect and civil discourse to achieve this outcome,” R. Gerald Turner, the university’s president, told The Daily Campus. “Throughout these discussions, students have expressed their commitment to freedom of expression—a value the university shares.”
A July version of Southern Methodist University’s display policy instructed students to “avoid messages that are triggering, harmful, or harassing” on Dallas Hall lawn.
The school later revised the policy to extract this language, but mandated the erection of displays at a location that student groups said was less prominent than Dallas Hall lawn.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, told Turner on Aug. 2 to restore the 9/11 display to its “appropriate and traditional place of honor.”
The memorial consists of nearly 3,000 American flags to honor those slain in the terrorist attacks.
“We are pleased and grateful that in this verbal agreement the university has conceded its restrictive policy limiting the freedom of student expression at the heart of our campus,” Drew Wicker, president of the university’s College Republicans, said in a prepared statement. “This represents a landmark victory for the free speech rights of the entire SMU student body.”
Wicker’s College Republicans group was one of several parties that petitioned the school to change the policy. The university’s College Democrats, Mustangs for Life, Feminist Equality Movement, and Turning Point USA chapter also participated.
“We are proud that our coalition of student organizations has worked together, despite political differences, to stand and win for the unifying and American value of freedom of expression,” Wicker said.
Southern Methodist University did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
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