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SGA proposes supporting student speech

Citing the recent events involving two members of the Mystics being reprimanded for taking a knee during the national anthem, a resolution of support for students’ rights was introduced at Monday’s SGA meeting.
Senate Resolution FY17-28 entitled “Support First Amendment Rights” signifies that SGA “stands behind the rights of Missouri Western students to freely express themselves in accordance with the Constitution of the United States” according to the bill’s official language.
Asst. Director of External Relations Brad Stanton authored the resolution and said recent events on campus led him to propose it.
“I saw in the St. Joseph News-Press what had happened to those two Mystics and my gut feeling was that was something that should not have happened,” Stanton said. “I reached out to those two Mystics. I met with Jay [Alford] and we talked it through. From everything that I talked to her about, it seemed like something that would be SGA’s position to back up students and say students have freedom of expression and freedom of speech.”
Senator and President of Black Student Union (BSU) Ravyn Highsmith said the resolution of support is necessary.
“I think it’s absolutely necessary. I think some people don’t understand what the First Amendment means, what it entails. Yes, it protects freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press, but I don’t think they understand what you can do with that right,” Highsmith said. “So, I completely agree with the resolution. I think it’s necessary. I think anybody should have their own opinion and they should be able to go ahead and exercise that right.”
Senator and President of NAACP Alexis Williams supports the resolution as well.
“I feel like they should be able to do as they please, as long as it is not hurting anyone,” Williams said.
Williams also said that there is a lack of understanding about what the two students were doing and what the Black Lives Matter movement is doing as well.
“I think we live in a world where people get offended easily, without even knowing what’s going on, and I feel like that’s what happened with the two girls who got sat down. You sat them down, but you didn’t really know what they were doing it for,” Williams said.
Highsmith also encouraged anyone seeking more information about the student demonstration to become part of the conversation.
“If anyone is interested in talking about why those girls were kneeling, why there is a Black Student Union, what NAACP does for this campus, we would love to have a conversation,” Highsmith said. “We are definitely open, but it’s definitely about education at the end of the day.”
A vote on the resolution will happen at next week’s SGA meeting on Oct. 17.

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