Letter to the editor: War at school and war in the streets

Campus administrators should ensure that all students have equal rights in order to promote a climate of robust and uninhibited dialogue and debate open to all views, no matter how controversial.

Letter to the Editor

As the 2020 presidential elections draws near, it is clear that tensions are rising on both sides of the political arena. This can be seen in the recent Trump rally that was held in Minneapolis where Republicans went to show their support for Trump, and the Democrats went to show their opposition to Trump. Everything happened during this event, from shouting, throwing insults, to destroying any MAGA campaign gear; acts of trying to exercise their First Amendment Rights. This is similar to what happened during the Paint the Bridge event here at the University of Minnesota, where the college Republicans panel was vandalized. This matter needs to be addressed because it deals with both the First Amendment and the University’s Free Speech Policy. Students should be allowed to exercise their rights as citizens and members of the University without facing violence from members of the other side. 

The University Academic Freedom and Free Speech Policy states, “We are dedicated to promoting free speech while also fostering a campus climate that supports equity, diversity, and inclusion. This includes a diversity of thought and the ability to learn how to disagree with one another with civility.” This means that students are allowed to express themselves freely without facing violent opposition. However, this excludes any type of morally subordinating speech that makes students feel like they do not belong in this community or that warrants any type of violence. For this reason, it is best to show support or opposition in a respectful manner. 

Universities are obligated to create an environment that fosters tolerance and mutual respect among members of the campus community. Students should be able to exercise their right to participate meaningfully in campus life without being subject to discrimination. Therefore, campus administrators should ensure that all students have equal rights in order to promote a climate of robust and uninhibited dialogue and debate open to all views, no matter how controversial.

Julia Machuchu is a student at the University of Minnesota.

This letter to the editor has been lightly edited for style and clarity.