The First Amendment continues to protect Miami students

College students across America are protesting, rallying and supporting activist movements on their campuses as threats of arrest loom overhead. To carry out these acts of assembly, protesters on college campuses often rely on the First Amendment to support their actions, whether holding signs or more conspicuous acts such as encampments or explosive language.

Although private universities may set their own rules and regulations regarding speech and assembly, as a public university, Miami University must adhere to the Ohio Revised Code, the Campus Free Speech Policy, and the First Amendment, which protects all speech, including hate speech.

According to the campus policy on free expression, “it is not the proper function of the university to attempt to protect individuals from free expression, including ideas and opinions that they consider offensive, imprudent, immoral, indecent, unpleasant, conservative, liberal , traditional, radical, etc. “wrongly thought.”

The First Amendment protects the right of speakers to express their views and to peacefully assemble to protest. However, according to Miami's website, a protest that causes material disruption or violence is not protected.

On Tuesday, April 30, Created Equal, an organization that advocates for human equality, exercised its rights when the group held a small activism event promoting an anti-abortion mentality outside the Armstrong Student Center.

Maggie Groover, a member of the organization based in Columbus, Ohio, said they travel to various campuses, high schools and abortion clinics in Ohio to talk to people about abortion and its impact on preborn children.

“We want to speak specifically to college students because they are the age group where most abortions occur,” Groover said. “…We hope to share the truth with people and just have productive conversations today.”

Photo by Taylor Stumbaugh | The Miami Student

Created Equal is based in Columbus, Ohio and travels to colleges across the country

On the corners in front of Armstrong were four signs showing graphic depictions of aborted fetuses. Officers from the Miami University Police Department were stationed next to two of the signs.

Kim Vance, the director of the Center for Student Engagement, Activities and Leadership, came to the demonstration to ensure students knew university resources were available to them if the stark images upset them.

“Unfortunately, the Constitution says you can say some pretty vile things, [but] “This is a college and part of what this is supposed to be is the exploration of different ideas and people's ability to hold two thoughts in their head at the same time,” Vance said, “and if we can't do that, there are conversations about that here , when we can't allow someone to say something we completely disagree with and listen to why they're saying it. We’re not going to get anywhere.”

Vance said no students approached her, but many walked by and appeared disturbed by the images.

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One of those students was Nathan Robles, a sophomore majoring in games and simulation. He said the signs were large, but he supported their right to gather on campus.

“Activism on campus is very controversial because when you talk to a lot of other students about it, they get kind of dismissive or deflecting, especially if it's something they don't agree with,” Robles said. “… [but] I just feel like it all depends on the approach and how peaceful it is.”

Anna Harden

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