First Amendment restrictions on UH-Hilo campus?

Merritt Burch
Jan 17, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Tabling at UH Hilo

Aloha from University of Hawaii at Hilo YAL Chapter!

As a new chapter, we began tabling this week and engaged several people on the importance of protecting their civil liberties.

After speaking to one person about the illegal NSA spying taking place in our country, she agreed with me about its significance, and was quite aware of the situation. However, upon realizing that our club was openly against such things and was exposing them, she told me that she was too fearful about the repercussions of signing up, due to the fact that the NSA monitors all emails and phone calls. I responded to her that it is our responsibility to uphold the values that our founding fathers based the formation of this country on. Most importantly though, I expressed to her that if we do not stand up for our rights as responsible citizens, who will? It is through fear that we are controlled and manipulated, so do not fear what happens if you do the right thing; fear the consequences of not doing so.

In addition to several interesting conversations that we had, we also had some conflict with the university’s director of student affairs. As part of our tabling event, we were politely engaging students through means of handing out Constitutions and reference materials to those who walked by. Many people responded favorably and were in support of our cause. However, towards the end of the event, the university’s director of student affairs came up to us and told us that it is against the university’s policies to approach people. We were to only sit at our table and wait for people to come to us due to previous student complaints.

After explaining to the lady that it is our constitutional right to express ourselves on public property and that the policy is unconstitutional, we weren’t making any progress. We politely stepped aside and complied, not wanting to make a scene without all of our facts in order. We are planning on contacting the university about their policies and hope to continue exercising our civil liberties to their full extent.

Regardless of any policy that the university may have, our constitutional rights were infringed upon, and we intend to protect them. We aren’t afraid to stand up for what we believe in. The First Amendment secures our right to do so and we’d like to keep it that way.

Written by Grace Tredinnick

Get FIRE on the case! They'll write a letter and do all the work for you.

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