New UNC School System free speech policy being met with mixed reactions

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A new free speech policy implemented by the UNC Board of Governors during a Friday meeting is being met with mixed reactions.

The main concern some have is how vague it is when it comes to what constitutes “disruptive behavior.”

“It just gives the university a tool to punish those students who feel that they’re doing the right thing and using their voice through an act of protest,” said Kristoffer Rixon with ECU College Democrats.

Under the policy, a person could be found in violation if they act in a disorderly manner, disruptive manner, violates the chancellor’s designation of a curfew period, or results in trespassing.

“Such actions include protests and demonstrations that materially infringe upon the rights of others to engage in and listen to expressive activity when the expressive activity has been scheduled pursuant to this policy,” it goes on to say.

Other students, like Giovanni Triana with ECU’s NRA Coalition, support the policy.

“The language could have been a little vague, but other than that it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.

Triana believes this implemented policy is much better than what was in place before.

ECU has dealt with issues involving free speech in the past. There was controversy when some members of the Marching Pirates took a knee during the national anthem. There were also protests when controversial figure Tomi Lahren spoke at an event on campus in the Spring of 2017.

The policy gives violators a chance to appeal any decision based upon individual circumstances. Punishment for violators could include suspension or expulsion, with second time offenders requiring at least suspension, and third time offenders requiring at least expulsion.

To read the full policy, click here.

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