Students walking through the Plaza this week were confronted by 18-foot-tall images of bloodied fetuses.
Although we have varying views on the touchy topic of abortion, we vehemently supported the right of Justice for All to display those images – no matter how repugnant many deem them to be.
And we applaud the university for allowing the group to have its say. Being exposed to different ideas and viewpoints is what a university is all about.
But it’s ironic that at the exact time these images that made many fellow Rams lose their lunch were displayed in all their glory, the university was blocking another form of speech: the distribution of fliers supporting Amendment 44, the November ballot measure that would legalize up to an ounce of pot.
The university’s justification for prohibiting the fliers was that a depicted marijuana leaf supposedly advocated the use of pot.
On Wednesday, the university, with the American Civil Liberties Union and the pot-legalization group SAFER breathing down its back, reversed its decision and allowed the two student groups to post the fliers on campus.
But the university refused to admit a mistake. Instead, a university spokeswoman is calling the restriction of free speech a “misunderstanding.”
Mary Ellen Sinnwell, the director of Residence Life, is even saying that she asked the student groups to change the fliers. She says they did, and that’s why the university reversed its decision.
We don’t buy that.
Seth Anthony, chair of the CSU Libertarian Party, said unequivocally, over and over, that the fliers did not change one bit.
And Sinnwell couldn’t articulate exactly how the new flier was different.
The university clearly made a mistake in denying the posting of the fliers, and then tried to cover up the fact that a mistake was made.
Humans make mistakes. That’s understandable.
But rather than covering them up or calling them “misunderstandings,” leaders should admit them.
So can someone at CSU – whether it’s a housing and dining official or someone from the administration – publicly admit that a mistake was made in denying two student groups the right to post their fliers – a basic tenet of free speech on campus?
And even better, how about a commitment to making sure this doesn’t happen again?
We won’t hold our breath.