Rules regarding political signage vary across campus

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Ashley Goetz

stsigns-ash

[email protected] With the political season in full swing, signage endorsing candidates are more visible than ever. But if students want to display their political agendas, their ability to do so might hinge on where they live. University of Minnesota residence halls allow signs in windows, as do fraternity and sorority houses, although many members choose not to put them up. There is no consistent rule, however, among area apartments. Chemical engineering sophomore Chris Glenski has political signs for Al Franken and Barack Obama in his sixth floor window in Comstock Hall. Glenski said he was inspired by the people who lived in his room last year because he remembers seeing an Obama sign in their window every day when he went to class. He also said it was a factor when he was choosing his room, since sophomores get first pick of the rooms and that window is more visible to passers-by. Glenski, who is also the co-chairman of Students for Al Franken , picked up the Franken sign at a rally over the summer. He also volunteered for the DFL party in his hometown of Rochester, where he got the Obama sign. Even though Glenski has two signs up in his window, he said he has learned from helping out with the Franken and Obama campaigns that signs donâÄôt make a difference. âÄúTheyâÄôre absolutely ineffective,âÄù Glenski said. âÄúTheyâÄôre a complete waste of time of organizers.âÄù Glenski said the signs are like a sports fan putting up a sign of their favorite team. âÄúI like it because itâÄôs kind of a branding effect,âÄù Glenski said. âÄúIâÄôm proud of these candidates and I want to show that pride.âÄù The fraternity houses along University Avenue are bare of political signage, and Dustin Norman , president of the Interfraternity Council, said even though members are allowed to express themselves politically, a sign in front of the house can be construed as a symbol for the whole house. âÄúIn the houses, every single member has their own political view,âÄù Norman said. âÄúThey may not feel comfortable blanketing their entire chapter with one feeling.âÄù The apartment complexes around campuses have varying degrees of rules regarding political signs. Melrose Student Suites , Bierman Place Apartments and Keeler Apartments all allow students to put political signs in their windows. The Dinnaken and Argyle Houses both disallow political signs in the rental contract, but Yvonne Grosulak , vice president of Dinnaken Properties , said they donâÄôt get âÄúcrazyâÄù about the rule. There are a few signs up, she said, but that itâÄôs not a big deal. Marcy Park Apartments and 1301 University do not allow signs in their tenantsâÄô windows. John Bilski , a manager of 1301, said it just seems to be the right thing to do. âÄúIn a shared community living environment, you kind of want some neutrality because itâÄôs home and you donâÄôt want to be bombarded with other peopleâÄôs opinions when youâÄôre walking to the laundry room,âÄù Bilski said. Jane Kirtley , a journalism professor at the University who specializes in media law, said it is within an apartment buildingâÄôs right to have rules about political signs. âÄúPrivate companies are not subject to the First Amendment,âÄù Kirtley said. âÄúThey have no obligation under the Constitution to give their tenants free-speech rights.âÄù Glenski said political signs are a nice way of seeing other people who agree with his views, but that is the only effect they have. âÄúIâÄôm pretty sure I wonâÄôt change anyoneâÄôs opinion with my signs,âÄù Glenski said.