NY Times Editors: Resist UO administration’s plan to arrest peaceful protestors

Update: The Daily Emerald’s Emma Henderson reports on student opposition to the restrictions, which the administration has given the Orwellian title of “The Time, Place, Manner and Protection of Speech Policy”.

2/12/2017: The UO administration wants to make peaceful protests a crime. They have proposed a new policy that will restrict the “time, place, and manner” of free speech at UO. Among the many restrictions our administration wants:

4. Use of University Campus for Speech Activities. … The interior spaces of University buildings are, generally, exclusively reserved for University business activities and therefore are not open for Speech Activities unless properly reserved in advance through the Facilities Scheduling Policy. …

And I thought one of the University’s primary business activities was free speech, or as Thomas Jefferson said, “for here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” Another:

6.4 While the streets and sidewalks of the campus are generally open to Speech Activities by University Entities, the Vice President for Finance and Administration may designate portions of a street and the time of day during which a street is not available for speech activities by any Person or group, in order to meet traffic, emergency access, and public transit needs. Any such restriction shall be content-neutral and viewpoint-neutral.

So they want to be able to ban marches down 13th Street by, say, South Eugene High School students protesting the Trump election. And UO students will need permission to put up protest banners:

9.4 University student organizations and ASUO may place banners or signs only in those locations authorized by University Scheduling and Event Services.

And, for those who disobey:

ENFORCEMENT

(1)            Any person violating these rules is subject to:

(a)             Institutional disciplinary proceedings, if a student or employee; and

(b)            An order to leave the immediate premises or property owned or controlled by the University by a person in charge of University property.

(2)            Persons failing to comply with an order by a person in charge to leave or to remain off the immediate premises or property owned or controlled by the University may be subject to citation or arrest for criminal trespass.

That’s right, the UO General Counsel’s office wants to have the right to arrest UO students who engage in peaceful protests such as last spring’s Divest UO sit-in.

Our administration is not alone in proposing these sorts of restrictions, and this Sunday the New York Times editorial page took aim at them all:

While their proponents say the bills and initiatives are needed to protect public safety and ensure civility, these efforts would crush the right of free protest at a time when key American principles and institutions are under attack.

Link here:

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6 Responses to NY Times Editors: Resist UO administration’s plan to arrest peaceful protestors

  1. Conservative Duck says:

    Apologies for the re-post, but this just bears repeating:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    In my personal opinion, free speech zones are un-American in both the letter and the spirit of the law.

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    • Fishwrapper says:

      As a pedantic note, one of the middle paragraphs is a lofty idea, the other is actually the law of the land.

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    • Anas clypeata says:

      Also un-Oregonian:

      Section 8. Freedom of speech and press. No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.

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    • Anas clypeata says:

      And one more, for good measure:

      Section 26. Assemblages of people; instruction of representatives; application to legislature. No law shall be passed restraining any of the inhabitants of the State from assembling together in a peaceable manner to consult for their common good; nor from instructing their Representatives; nor from applying to the Legislature for redress of grievances.

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  2. New Year Cat says:

    I think it’s interesting that they want to limit speech to outdoor areas right as bargaining begins again with SEIU, the classified staff union, which has a habit of loud walk-throughs of Johnson Hall….

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  3. Tagore Smith says:

    ‘…therefore are not open for Speech Activities unless properly reserved in advance.’ has a nice Orwellian ring to it- the odd capitalization gives it some extra Orwellian heft.

    I have to wonder- am I allowed to say anything at all on the UO campus, outside of designated areas I have reserved in advance? What distinguishes a ‘Speech Activity’ from normal discourse?

    I do think that the conflation of speech with action (especially violent action, or action meant to disrupt others right to speak) we’ve seen recently is dangerous. A University does, it seems to me, have a proper interest in restricting beating political opponents to certain areas of campus, and might, in fact, be justified in banning the practice (though I do sort of like the idea of having a little battle arena in the campus center where the alt-right and the Maoists could battle it out with all sorts of weapons, and very few rules- two ideologies enter, one ideology leaves. This policy would have, as far as I’m concerned, many beneficial side-effects, chief among them a sort of culling of the herd.)

    To the degree we intertwingle Activity and Speech, we endanger Speech. This is a tough line to draw- the act of speaking is an Activity, I suppose. But that’s sophistry, and I think it’s not really _that_ hard to distinguish Speech from Activity in the general case- there might be some difficult edge-cases, but I’d like to think most rational adults are able to see the difference between holding a sign and hitting someone with it.

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