Earlier this month, the Director of Student Engagement, Heidie Lindsey, asked the Student Action and Organizing Committee (SAOC) at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to remove flyers that they had placed in Griffin Hall.
SAOC believes that they are being unfairly targeted by this request.
Mark Mallory, the co-founder of SAOC, said in a statement, “The SAOC believes that the university administration’s selective enforcement and uneven access in regards to free speech on campus is entirely political and does not serve the interest and rights of students.”
Mallory later explained that he had not been able to find where UL Lafayette had written down policies against political flyers.
“Dean Lindsay may allege there is a policy somewhere that prohibits anyone from posting flyers except for certified student organizations. This policy is absent from any online literature, including the student free speech code, which does not mention flyers or signs,” he said.
The official campus policy on free-speech states that most speech is allowed, but with some restrictions.
“University of Louisiana at Lafayette (“University”) deems the free and open inquiry into all matters fundamental to the mission of higher education and is committed to the preservation of the lawful, free expression of ideas, subject only to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. The University will allow and protect expressive activities by students, administrators, faculty members, staff members, and invited guests in accordance with all applicable laws and this Policy,” according to the official UL website.
However, there is nothing written about non-student organizations, only official organizations and students outside of an organization.
“The University of Louisiana at Lafayette student handbook describes the expectations for behavior and conduct in the UL Lafayette community, and outlines the procedures to be followed when these expectations are not met. It includes the Code of Student Conduct, the Academic Integrity Policy, as well as other rules, regulations, and policies governing student life.
Student Policies Non-Student Policies Organization Policies Resources”, according to the student rights and responsibilities webpage at UL Lafayette.
Dean Lindsey said in a statement that they were asked to take down their flyers only because they are not an organization at this time.
“They were asked to take their flyers down because they are not an officially recognized student organization yet. They are in the process of becoming one, however.”
She further explained in an interview that if the flyers did not contain the name SAOC, they would not have been removed.
“The only difference in this situation (as opposed to other flyers) is that the flyer was posted on behalf of the name of the organization that is not recognized. So it’s different, let’s say, I could stand out in the middle of campus and hand out those flyers, but I can’t do it on behalf of that organization, and so I wouldn’t print the name of my organization on there until my organization is approved,” she said.
Dean Lindsey continued by explaining that the process of becoming an organization is not indefinite, but it can take a long time.
“In general, from the very very start to the very very finish, I usually tell students about six to eight weeks, and that’s if everything goes smoothly,” she said.
SAOC did remove the flyers, but on Thursday, Nov. 14, they held a protest outside of Griffin Hall by handing out flyers and sitting silently inside squares of tape next to one of the doors.
“We created a spontaneous demonstration, this morning, and running all day today, in solidarity with incarcerated people. Our campaign, ‘prisons are the problem’ is about creating conversation that centers the humanity of incarcerated people. We felt that an effective way of foregrounding the humanity is putting our bodies in a visible box that size of a solitary confinement cell,” Mallory said.