A university professor, after seeing a curse word written in front of President Obama’s last name, demanded that the event organizers cover the word, according to FIRE’s account of the protest.
When student organizers refused to censor the free speech wall, the professor returned with a box cutter and removed the profanity from the wall. The campus police were called to the scene, according to FIRE, and students were told to cover up the curse word or remove the wall.
Student organizers decided to take down the free speech wall.
“It is not a good feeling to watch the free expression of your fellow students taken away because someone disagrees with their message,” Morgan Freeman, an organizer of SHSU Lovers of Liberty and creator of the free speech wall, wrote in a blog post. “It is a violation of their rights, and a threat to the rights of everyone else at our university.”
Gibson, the university president, said in a Sept. 23 letter that SHSU “respects the principles of freedom of speech” and assured FIRE officials and student protesters that the incident was under investigation.
Controversial social media stances might be new on college campuses, but trademark disagreements related to student websites has been an ongoing issue in higher education over the past decade.
The University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2005 told a student he could not use the letters UCSB in his website, TheDarkSideOfUCSB.com.
The university eventually rescinded legal action against the student blogger after FIRE sent a letter defending the student’s right to use the school’s initials.