Tech speech guidelines enforced

After a student complaint, flyers sponsored by an on-campus student organization were promptly removed from the cafeteria.

Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or SETA, placed two-sided flyers in the cafeteria. One side provides students with vegan recipes utilizing foods in the caf; the other reported facts about animal consumption and the effects it has on one’s health.

The student, who was not identified by department administration, was reported to have taken issue with the statement “it’s mass, mechanized murder,” written on one side of SETA’s flyer.

Amy Pennington, dean of students, and Will Cooper, assistant dean for student conduct, made it clear that the flyers were not removed because of the message they communicated. “We hope students come here [to Tech] and they’re exposed to new ideas,” Pennington said.

In fact, Tech’s neutrality is defined in the student handbook, which reads, “Arkansas Tech University will remain neutral as to the content of any public demonstration, debate, speech or other form of expression.” That exposure, however, is defined by Tech administration looking to make education the primary focus of Tech. 

“We’re trying to manage it in a way it doesn’t interfere with our mission, which is to teach,” Pennington said.

Tech’s free speech zones are the Doc Bryan lecture hall every Tuesday from 3-5 p.m.; the Doc Bryan west courtyard daily from 8-midnight; and the Hindsman Bell Tower daily from 8-midnight.

“If you want to go and espouse that information in a forum type situation, we want you in those certain areas,” Pennington said. Similar guidelines apply to flyers and chalking, or writing, in non-permanent chalk, on campus sidewalks.

The student handbook reads, “any registered student organization that wishes to place a banner, flyer, or any other display in any other location must have permission from Student Services or the Office of Residence Life. Proper recognition and guidelines for such expectations are obtained from Student Services or, for residence halls, from the Office of Residence Life.”

The handbook continues, “chalking is permitted only to advertise a schedule, approved event; not general advertisements for a registered student organization or university department.”

No matter the medium used to communicate, Tech reserves the right to “limit any such activates by the following regulations regarding time, place and manner of such activities.”

Further information can be found on pages 95-100 of the student handbook.

About Sierra Murphy 54 Articles
Sierra Murphy is The Arka Tech's News Writer.