On Sept. 17, Dean of Students Ken Stonebrook spent the afternoon talking with students at the Taylorsville campus in celebration of Constitution Day.
Austin Fashimpaur, Senator of Applied Technology, helped organize the luncheon and set up a station where students could register to vote during the presentation. Stonebrook talked about freedom of speech and answered questions on where speech is allowed and how free speech applies to students and faculty at Salt Lake Community College.
“As students and teachers, you don’t shed your First Amendment rights when you step through the schoolhouse gates,” says Stonebrook. “You, as students, maintain your First Amendment rights when you come to school. Also, in the classroom, our faculty members have academic freedom to share information as it relates to the subject matter being taught.”
Until two years ago, students on Utah campuses were only allowed to hold a protest or share an issue they deemed important in designated “free speech zones.” Usually, this meant being restricted to a small corner on the outer perimeter of the campus.
However, in 2017, Utah passed House Bill 54, which made a few changes to how free speech works on the college campus. Students are now allowed to protest or raise awareness about an issue on any outdoor space on campus, permitted they are not breaking any laws.
Consequently, if students feel like SLCC violated their expressive rights, students have the right to take SLCC to court.
Stonebrook emphasizes that students are not required to let the campus know about an event they are planning, but asks that students stop by the Student Center to give them a heads up, so things go more smoothly. Flyers can be approved and staff can be notified, so there’s no question as to what students are doing or why they’re there.
SLCC would like to help assist in any way possible, and Stonebrook encourages students to check out the school policies so they know their rights.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is Freedom of Speech; it is democracy, the free exchange of ideas without fear of persecution.
“Freedom of Speech is imperative for true liberation through education. Without it, we simply risk the constraints of oppression that prevent our mindset from ever reaching a state of growth,” says student Daphne Nelson.