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The Blue & Gray Press | May 20, 2018

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Letter to the Editor: Freedom of Assembly Challenged

Dear Editor,

On Wednesday, Sept. 28, approximately 40 University of Mary Washington students and community members gathered outside of George Washington Hall to protest an appearance by Karl Rove. Unfortunately, the University thought that Rove was entitled to speak without being directly challenged by detractors.

Without providing any reason, campus police ordered us to move around to the back of the building and down Campus Walk so that we would be out of sight and sound of most people entering the building, threatening to arrest us if we did not comply.

We were unarmed, civil, peaceful protesters. The police clearly had no security related reasons to relocate us. They did not even deny that the real reason for asking us to move was to marginalize the protest and protect Rove from criticism.

What makes this incident especially disturbing is that we were told the order came from Assistant Vice President Susan Knick.

Ms. Knick needs to explain to the students and taxpayers who pay her salary why she felt it was appropriate to use police power to promote her own personal views.

Not only is it morally reprehensible to use the police power that comes with one’s office to promote one’s political views, it is flat out dangerous. What would have happened if an actual crime had occurred on campus while the police were busy restricting our free speech? Were there enough officers available to respond in such a circumstance?

If it turns out that the campus could have been in danger because Ms. Knick misused limited police resources to promote her own views, then the University should probably consider finding a new assistant vice president for Public Safety and Community Services who will take a more responsible attitude toward the position.

Joe Katz is a senior.

Comments

  1. My campus is a free speech zone

    Joe, I agree with you that Knick should explain her decision to the public. Until she does, however, I don’t think it’s fair to say that she did it due to “personal views.”

    It’s completely possible that she deployed the police in spite of her feelings for Rove rather than because of them.

    Unfortunately, regardless of her personal feelings about the scumbag, her bad decision to direct the police in this manner is cause for us to question whether she has the ability to handle her position’s responsibilities appropriately.

  2. Arnold

    I agree with ^. Susan Knick may have relocated the protest as a way of not disrupting the event regardless of who was speaking, not as an expression of her own political views.

    I know us liberal college students are an oppressed minority here at UMW, but we owe Dr. Knick the ability to explain her side of the story.

    Can we please have a campus forum to discuss this issue?