by Grant Wolf, Chairman of SMU Young Americans for Freedom
This morning, I am proud to report that as of yesterday afternoon, our Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter reached a verbal agreement with Southern Methodist University to reinstate the right of student organizations to use Dallas Hall Lawn for free expression. Last week’s controversy erupted after SMU denied Young Americans for Freedom’s (YAF) request to use the traditional location of Dallas Hall Lawn for the 9/11: Never Forget Project. After we broke the story on The New Guard, intense media scrutiny and a nationwide outcry over SMU’s decision began.
Our chapter’s influence on campus and the national support of Young America’s Foundation gave us leverage in conversations with university administrators, which concluded in a victory for the right to free speech of the entire SMU student body. We have ensured that no content-restrictive speech zone will exist at the iconic heart of our school.
On July 24, the university sent me, as the chairman of SMU YAF, a new policy that stated SMU students could no longer engage in displays of free expression regarding political or social issues or the commemoration of events at the very heart of the SMU campus. The policy insinuated that the American flag could potentially be “triggering, harmful, or harassing.” Soon thereafter, SMU changed language in the policy instead to “coercion and harassment,” doubling down on the content-restrictive sentiment. Our YAF chapter was not willing to allow our university to descend the slippery slope of political correctness and the suppression of free speech. SMU YAF built a coalition of student organizations across the political spectrum, and began our now-successful campaign for the restoration of the First Amendment right to free expression on the entire SMU campus.
In reversing their original decision to force the 9/11: Never Forget Project from its traditional location, the university also agreed to give SMU YAF and its coalition a seat at the table for the official amend-and-review process to create and institute a new lawn display and free expression policy. As the current content-restrictive policy has yet to be officially nullified, our YAF chapter promises careful vigilance to ensure the final resolution truly protects freedom.
When on the afternoon of September 10 it comes time to begin placing 2,977 American flags in the shadow of hallowed Dallas Hall, we will remember our victory proudly. On September 11, 2001, 2,977 Americans were killed because their nation believes in Freedom. We will never forget the price of that Freedom.
We have not fought against our university. We have fought for America. And America has won.