University police need to apologize

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Lorain) recently visited BGSU to give a speech detailing his plans for the upcoming midterm elections.

The event, which took place in the Union Multipurpose Room, was a veritable pep rally filled with professors, curious students and a few washed up celebrities to boot (here’s looking at you, Luke Perry).

But when I found out this borderline Marxist and all-around jerk was coming to our campus, I was a little upset.

After all, Sherrod Brown arrogantly purports to support our troops, yet has consistently voted down every military appropriation bill that has come before him. He also supports partial birth abortion, thinking it alright to crush a baby’s skull with a needle if the mother consents, no questions asked.

So after his imminent visit was brought to my attention, I decided to take action, voice my discontent and try to educate some people.

I gathered like-minded conservatives and individuals from the College Republicans, and together we made signs, put on Mike DeWine T-shirts and made our way up to the area in front of the Multipurpose Room.

When we arrived, we proudly held up our signs and quietly stood outside the event in peaceful protest. Although there were a few detractors who heckled and jeered, the demonstration was completely devoid of riots, fights or bloodshed in what was becoming a quiet, civil display of free speech and expression.

That is until someone told us we had to leave.

You see, about twenty minutes after our arrival, we were told by a University police officer that, according to university policy, freedom of speech does not exist inside the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, and we had to vacate outside to a “freedom of speech zone.” We tried to argue with him, citing the First Amendment, but the officer would not budge.

Now I may be fuzzy on my history, but last I checked, freedom of speech is unquestionably explicit in the First Amendment to the Constitution and is permitted everywhere in this country.

And although the Supreme Court has ruled “freedom of speech zones” may be enforced in public places, I certainly could not find any mention of such zones in either the BGSU Code of Student Conduct or the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Guidelines.

In fact, Jill Carr told this very newspaper last month free speech is allowed anywhere on campus as long as it doesn’t interfere with traffic or block entrances into or out of campus buildings.

Apparently the BGSU Police Department doesn’t agree with these rules and has decided to invent the law and take matters into their own hands. In the process they have deprived students of their basic rights as members of the BGSU community, specifically “freedom of inquiry, speech and assembly” according to the Code of Student Conduct.

Yet two years ago when the College Republicans brought David Horowitz to this university, and immature, volatile liberals upturned tables and caused mass disturbances in protest, here’s what the BGSU Police Department did: absolutely nothing.

That’s right. While deranged students were engaging in acts which were not only disruptive, but genuinely could have caused harm to someone, the BGSU police just stood by and watched it all happen.

Their reasoning for not intervening at the time: freedom of speech.

So I guess I’m confused how a department could so readily contradict itself, especially when, according to the BGSU Department of Public Safety Web site, University police “support, in action and spirit, the mission of Bowling Green State University.”

Apparently the exception to this principle is when seven conservative students peacefully hold up signs in front of a rally. After all, that’s much worse than a bunch of liberals rioting and engaging in potentially violent activity.

Now I’m not saying the University police give preferential treatment to liberals and deliberately disenfranchise conservatives, but the same standards should apply to all students, and the Code of Student Conduct should be upheld properly.

BGSU is a community which fosters a system of tolerance for each student, no matter who they are or where they come from.

Everyone has an equal voice under the First Amendment, and if the University police really support the mission of Bowling Green State University “in action and spirit,” their actions will better reflect their sentiments in the future.

In the meantime, the BGSU Police Department and Officer Jim Wiegand, who was in charge that day, owe the College Republicans and the entire student body an apology, because in the process of depriving students of their basic, fundamental rights, their department has disgraced itself.

They need to pledge that this type of scurrilous and outright absurd bastardization of University policy and Constitutional Law will not happen again in the future at our university, so no voice is unheard and no expression written off.

After all, that’s what college is supposed to be all about.

Send comments to Dan Lipian at [email protected].