STAFF EDITORIAL | Independence, free speech necessary for student organizations

We at the Butler Collegian believe it is the right of all active student organizations to exercise their First Amendment right of free speech and to act as the independent organizations they are.

We are outraged that members of the Butler University faculty and staff would take it upon themselves to regulate the planned activities of a recognized student organization.

Recently, the student advertising organization, ADrenaline, put up posters around the Fairbanks Center promoting a guest speaker for their Oct. 6 meeting. All of the posters that were placed around the building were stamped and approved by the Programs for Leadership and Service Education office and therefore the university.

The speaker, from the Miami Ad School, spoke to the organization about a variety of topics, including the current state of the advertising industry, as well as a postgraduate summer “boot camp” and workshops offered through the school’s programs.

ADrenaline president Jonathan Spear said he noticed the posters were missing on Oct. 5.

College of Communication Interim Dean Bill Neher said the posters were removed because they were hung in inappropriate locations around the Fairbanks Center, though he said he does not know who removed the posters.

According to the 2010-11 Student Organization Handbook, “Notices and signs must clearly state the official name of the sponsoring organization or individual, and may be posted only on bulletin boards. Signs posted on departmental bulletin boards should be approved by the appropriate academic department.”

The handbook continues to state that, “Signs may not be posted on the small corkboard space outside of classrooms.”

In addition, “Signs posted on interior and exterior walls, windows, doors, elevators, floors, sidewalks and on any wood or painted surfaces, will be removed.”

Many of the posters were inappropriately posted on interior windows, walls and doors inside the Fairbanks Center however, other posters were left in these locations. There was a legally placed ADrenaline poster on the bulletin board outside of the Collegian office that was removed as well.

Though CCOM Interim Associate Dean Ann Savage said she removed one of the posters to look it over, she said she has no idea who took down the rest of the posters.

But recent interviews conducted by the Butler Collegian reveal that the motive for removal may have gone beyond the posters being inappropriately placed.

Both Savage and Mark Rademacher, strategic communication program director, said they were concerned about the guest speaker from the Miami Ad School due to a possible conflict of interest.

Even though we don’t see this as a conflict of interest because Butler offers no undergraduate nor graduate degrees in advertising, this is not the issue at hand.

What infuriates us is that faculty members within our own CCOM felt they had any right to intervene with the situation. The fact is, student organizations are independent and run by student leaders. They earn money by fundraising and applying for grants through the Student Government Association. They do not receive money from specific colleges.

The Student Organization Handbook says that faculty advisers are there to “Serve as a sounding board off of which students can bounce new ideas; Intervene in conflicts between group members and/or officers if necessary; Be knowledgeable of policies that may impact the organization’s decisions, programs, etc.; Help students navigate administrative ‘red tape’; Provide an outside view or perspective; Provide student groups with University and community connections.”

Other than this, there is no reason why any outside faculty or staff should involve themselves with the ongoings of a student run organization.

This should not apply only to ADrenaline, but to all other student organizations.

One thing that Butler prides itself on is the large number of student organization and the high involvement of Butler students within these organizations.

They facilitate socialization, service and a sense of learning outside the classroom. We think that the colleges and Butler as a whole should be supportive of these organizations and their efforts to bring students together and to bring students a diversity of learning and information.

We at the Butler Collegian see Butler as an institution that prides itself on honest and open discussion. University President Bobby Fong embodies that through his weekly “President’s Open Forum” in Starbucks.

By trying to suppress ADrenaline’s right to act independently and its freedom of speech, we see this as a grave contradiction to what we feel Butler stands for as an institution of higher education.

Between Butler, its six colleges and its student organizations, it is imperative that all act with integrity and professionalism, and we feel that those two factors were missing in the way some faculty within CCOM handled the ADrenaline and Miami Ad School situation.

This issue demands our attention so that students will not feel their programming ideas and projects could be suppressed. That includes student organization’s activities.

We must stand up for the students’ First Amendment privileges so that students do not fear losing these rights.

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