What is the difference between a Flyer News staff member writing a pro-Romney column on this page and a member of the UD College Republicans distributing pro-Romney campaign materials in front of KU?
Both are forms of expression that would seem to be protected under the “Freedom of Expression” section of the student handbook. Both endorse a particular view on a political candidate. Both are distributed to students on campus property, and both are distributed by organizations that receive some form of support from the administration.
The difference is, the column is allowed, while the campaigning is prohibited.
To be honest, we don’t see the philosophical differences between these two forms of expression, but apparently the university believes they are significant enough to merit a restriction of the campaign activities of the College Democrats and College Republicans.
When did the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech divorce from its guarantee of the freedom of the press? We understand that the administration must comply with federal law regarding the university’s non-profit status, but we don’t understand why our right to speak freely on political topics has survived while the rights of our fellow Flyers have been stifled.
We’re calling for a more comprehensive discussion between the university and its students, specifically those who are involved in the 2012 political campaigns. The administration should clarify with these groups those gray areas that still exist in regards to what is and is not permissible under the law. Of course there will be restrictions, and we accept that the university does not have much say in matters where federal law is concerned, but there must be a way for the university to enable its politically-motivated students to participate in the election while still complying with campaign regulations.
Flyer News supports rights to freedom of expression for all students, whether printed in these pages or distributed in public. We stand by the political groups on campus striving for more lenient campaign policies and hope that the university will use this opportunity to teach its students a lesson in compromise.