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This is a victory: Southern Methodist University (SMU) has backed down from a decision to shift its annual 9/11 memorial to a remote place on campus so that it might not offend some students.
[In its original decision] the campus administration cited a new “lawn display” policy which, it claimed, tries to balance “the right of all members of the SMU community to express their opinions” and the right to “avoid messages that are triggering, harmful, or harassing.”
A bipartisan coalition of students blasted the policy, including the SMU College Democrats whose co-vice president said “If expression is banned from a part of this campus, that is detrimental to the education of the students.” Fox News reports SMU donors, alumni and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined the criticism, as well.
The school changed its mind late Wednesday. “I thank the students from across campus who came together in the spirit of mutual respect and civil discourse to achieve this outcome,” SMU President R. Gerald Turner said in a prepared statement. “Throughout these discussions, students have expressed their commitment to freedom of expression – a value the University shares.”
Conservatives on campus expressed guarded caution, noting that though the university has backed down here, it has also not yet revised its new more restrictive speech policies.