SMU Group Unhappy About 9/11 Memorial Relocation

DALLAS — A group at a Texas university is angry they have to move a 9/11 memorial to a less-prominent part of campus.

The Young Americans for Freedom group has set up nearly 3,000 flags on Southern Methodist University’s Dallas Hall Lawn annually since 2010, The Dallas Morning News reported . But university officials recently told the group to relocate the display to Morrison-McGinnis Park.

University officials originally said the relocation was to protect students from “harmful or triggering” messages but amended that decision Tuesday to say all displays must be at the park.

“SMU respects the rights of all campus community members to express their opinions, as well as their right to be free from coercion and harassment,” university officials said in a written statement. “The policy has been further updated to better reflect this balance and to remove the poor wording regarding triggering or harmful messages.”

University spokesman Kent Best said the policy was revised because the Dallas Hall Lawn is used for outdoor classes, studying between classes and a variety of university events.

Some student groups said the new policy is an attack on free speech.
“I don’t believe it’s the responsibility of the university to shield individuals from certain ideas that they might be offended by,” said Grant Wolf, the leader of the Young Americans for Freedom group.

Wolf, along with other leaders from campus groups, sent a letter to university President R. Gerald Turner to express their frustration with the policy.

“People absolutely have to have a right to their own opinions, but this does not come with a right to be shielded from opposing ideas, especially in an environment dedicated to the learning, sharing and developing of new ideas,” they wrote.

Heather Hall, president of the university’s Turning Point USA chapter, said moving the 9/11 memorial to an out of the way park is almost the same as not allowing it.

“That’s not free speech,” Hall said. “That’s not American. That’s definitely not what SMU stands for.”