Southern Methodist University has decided not to move its 9/11 memorial to a less prominent location on campus following a backlash against a controversial ruling to change the memorial’s location.
The university displays 3,000 flags at the heart of campus in honor of the 9/11 victims. But controversy arose after the school posted a policy in July stating that “to avoid messages that are triggering, harmful or harassing,” the memorial would be moved to Morris-Mcginnis Park.
When that initial posting was met with prompt backlash, the school changed the wording of the policy but not its content.
“SMU respects the rights of all campus community members to express their opinions, as well as their right to be free from coercion and harassment. The policy has been further updated to better reflect this balance and to remove the poor wording regarding triggering or harmful messages,” the school said in a written statement, the Morning News noted.
But Texas Republican governor Greg Abbott put his foot down and sent a letter to SMU president R. Gerald Turner, urging him to restore the memorial to its original location as it was not “a political display.”
“This display is not political. It is not partisan. It is not controversial. This is about our nation united,” Abbott wrote. “Each flag represents a life taken, the soul of a family destroyed. Yet each flag also represents a symbol of hope, for as a people united we remain unbowed. I ask that the 9/11 display not be relegated to a far corner of campus. It should be celebrated in its heart.”
Finally, the university relented and said in a release Wednesday that the lawn displays can stay with an open agreement to leave “open spaces for studying, classes, events and recreation,” WFAA reported.
Student organizations from a variety of backgrounds voiced their disagreement with the school’s original policy. Leaders from SMU’s College Democrats and Feminist Equality Movement joined Young Americans for Freedom, College Republicans, Mustangs for Life, and Turning Point USA to lend their signatures to a letter to school president Turner condemning his decision.
“I don’t believe it’s the responsibility of the university to shield individuals from certain ideas that they might be offended by,” Grant Wolf, who heads Young Americans for Freedom, told the Morning News.
“People absolutely have to have a right to their own opinions, but this does not come with a right to be shielded from opposing ideas, especially in an environment dedicated to the learning, sharing and developing of new ideas,” the letter said, according to the Morning News.
Dear SMU: Dumb “PC motivated” decision or just plain demented? This is going to backfire. 😳https://t.co/r91ZhaT2YO
— thebradfordfile (@thebradfordfile) August 2, 2017
OUTRAGEOUS! Students at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, were told their 9/11 Memorial would be “harassing & triggering!” 😡🇺🇸🦅⚡️ pic.twitter.com/GumC1zzqXu
— Sarah Condor-Fisher (@Condor_Law) August 5, 2017
Southern Methodist University bans 9/11 memorial because of new “triggering” policy https://t.co/K1KGX21ZkQ
— Gerrit (@ger2591) August 10, 2017
Y would a METHODIST university ever ban something like this? I would think that a church college would b expected to b more conservative… https://t.co/Mr7EVraI0S
— Su (@su_ingle) August 10, 2017
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