Incident in Student Union raises questions about free speech zones - The Herald: News

Incident in Student Union raises questions about free speech zones

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Posted: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 6:05 pm

Controversy surrounded an upstart political organization last Wednesday, as students and the local representative from Turning Point USA were shut down from promoting themselves in the Student Union.

Turning Point USA is a politically conservative organization who, according to their website, hold chapters on over 1,000 school campuses around the nation and have run over 5,000 activism events.

Their mission is to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government.”

Junior Joel Haynes arrived at Turning Point USA’s table moments before the situation began to escalate with UPD.

“I stopped by the Turning Point USA table just before the two UPD officers arrived to confront [the] TPUSA representative,” Haynes said. “Before the police arrived, the Student Union events coordinator Elizabeth Rouse approached the representative to explain the A-State policies regarding free expression and the registration process for coming onto campus. When UPD arrived, they explained the same policies.”

Emily Parry, the regional representative for Turning Point USA, argued against UPD, citing the Constitution as her argument against Rouse and the police, but was given a ban from the university.

A-State is a free speech zone campus, meaning students and outside organizations are allowed to protest and distribute flyers, but only

in certain areas.

“[Parry] responded by explaining why she has a Constitutional right to exercise her freedom of speech; she refused to leave on her own accord,” Haynes said. “The officer who was talking with Miss Parry informed her that she would be issued a notice of Persona Non Grata, a ban from campus property.”

Turning Point USA’s news website quickly turned around a story on the incident, analyzing what they perceive as contradictions from A-State’s stance towards free speech. Author Krista Shawley said she reached out to A-State’s administration for inquiries regarding the university’s free speech policies, but received no response.

Refusing to be disheartened for her cause by this incident, Parry continues to remain optimistic in her fight for free speech for college students all across the nation and intends to remain involved with the growth of A-State’s Turning Point USA chapter.

“We will continue to stand with the millions of Americans that unequivocally support freedom of speech on college campuses,” Parry said. “(Turning Point USA) are evaluating all available options to ensure that our student chapter members are able to freely exercise this right at Arkansas State (University).”

A-State’s Turning Point USA chapter is in the process of becoming officially registered with the university and as of Monday includes 20 members.

A-State administration and UPD could not be reached by press time.

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