On Monday, Young America’s Foundation broke the story of Southern Methodist University’s bizarre decision to unceremoniously push the Young Americans for Freedom Chapter’s 9/11: Never Forget Project flag display out of the central campus corridor. Since then, the nation has erupted in outrage over SMU’s action to restrict their own students’ ability to express patriotic sentiment. In addition to obstructing an iconic campus memorial, SMU is denying the innocent victims of 9/11 the respect they deserve.
Grant Wolf, the founding chairman of the SMU Young Americans for Freedom, has been in contact with Texas Governor Greg Abbott to thank the Governor for his support of free expression and commitment to a patriotic memorial to the victims of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. In a letter sent to Governor Abbott, Wolf outlines the necessity for SMU YAF’s prominent, respectful, and patriotic display on the anniversary of 9/11:
Dear Governor Abbott,
Thank you for your letter to President Turner yesterday on behalf of Young Americans for Freedom and students at SMU concerned for free speech. We are honored and grateful that you have chosen to support us as we seek to remember our countrymen murdered on 9/11/2001.
As you know, President Turner rebuffed your request to allow us to host our 9/11 Memorial in its customary location. His response effectively accused us of providing false information regarding Dallas Hall Lawn to you and to the media. However, he neglected to respond to ours and your fundamental concern: preventing students from prominently displaying their patriotism, their ideas and convictions, and their love of country.
You rightly identified Dallas Hall Lawn as the “traditional place of honor.” Thousands of students pass by the historic heart of our campus, Dallas Hall, every single day. You would be hard-pressed to find an SMU student claiming there was a more prominent place on campus. However, our University continues to iterate its priority of preventing “coercion and harassment.” We believe prioritizing sensitivity over honesty, freedom, and patriotism is shameful.
This particular argument is relevant to the larger conversation regarding free speech on university campuses across our nation. SMU has repeatedly mentioned protecting students from “triggering”, “coercive”, and “harassing” messages on campus. We have seen universities across the country implement many policies that restrict free speech and expression under the same pretenses.
Our republic and our education thrive on civil disagreement. That is as true now as for all the 241 years of our nation’s history. Especially at an institution whose mission is to stand for education and the pursuit of truth. All of us, conservatives and liberals, stand united in our commitment to free speech because we know how important it is.
We intend to continue to pressure our administration to allow our 9/11 memorial and other demonstrations of free expression on the lawn at the heart of our university. We would be very grateful for your continued support of our efforts.
Grant Wolf—Chairman and Founder, SMU Young Americans for Freedom
Wolf and his chapter remain committed to using the lawn in front of Dallas Hall for their 9/11 flag memorial as they have done since 2015 for YAF’s 9/11: Never Forget Project. Creating a meaningful, prominent, and respectful remembrance for the anniversary of September 11, 2001 is a responsibility SMU YAF takes seriously, and will not be dissuaded from.
The 9/11: Never Forget Project was launched by Young America’s Foundation in 2003 to ensure students properly remember the anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. In the years since, YAF’s 9/11: Never Forget Project has grown to become the largest nationwide student initiative.
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