Freedom of speech essential

Story by The Orange staff

Once again, the editorial board of the Orange would like to address a matter concerning students’ rights.

At the April 18 meeting of the Baker University Student Senate, the Baker Orange Editor Jen Thierer made a proposal asking representatives of the student body to pass a resolution that would support free speech and a free press and condemn censorship on campus.

While this request was in direct response to the theft of the April 7 issue of the Orange, Thierer asked senators to consider this resolution in a broad, objective sense.

In other words, the Orange respects the right of individuals to disagree with articles presented in the student media and through other outlets on campus, but would like the basic principles of free speech and press to take precedent over principles concerning specific incidents.

Following some debate, members of student senate decided to table the issue and address it again at this week’s meeting after further consideration.

Tuesday, after deliberation in a session which was closed to the public, senate declined to pass the resolution by a vote of 29 to eight, with one senator abstaining.

Firstly, it is rather disheartening to discover that those whose duty is to represent the student body do not agree with those students’ rights to free speech – whether it be in favor or dissent of any issue.

If student senate does not agree with students’ right to voice their opinions, how can it ever know how to accurately represent those students?

While as individuals or as organized groups we may have occasion to disagree with what others have to say, it is our right as students, not to mention as citizens in a free democracy, to express ourselves through a system of free speech and free press.

When addressing issues of free speech and free press, it is important to remember that this does not just include entities such as the Orange or KNBU 89.7, but extends to students’ rights to chalk sidewalks, post fliers or demonstrate on campus.

Hopefully, no critical thinker could enjoy individuals or organizations whose speech or publication promotes discrimination or hate, but it is of the utmost importance to protect the right of those individuals or organizations to express their opinions.

One cannot separate the issue in a matter which states support of free speech and free press which is agreeable, while at the same time condemning free speech and free press which is disagreeable.

Secondly, with regard to the issue of censorship, by refusing to condemn acts of censorship, regardless of the motive behind the acts, senate furthers the ideal that free speech and free press can be pushed aside when individuals disagree with what has been presented.

With its decision to not condemn censorship, senate gives the impression of support for censorship, even if it is by simply not taking action. When one supports censorship, one is without a doubt in direct opposition to free speech and free press.

The Orange feels that the senate decision to refuse support of free speech and free press in broad terms is an infraction on the rights of all students.

The Orange editorial board urges members of the student senate and the student body to critically consider the ideals of free speech and press and to speak out about them.

After all, it’s everyone’s right.