EDITORIAL: Don’t silence student voices


Organizations should have the freedom to say what they want about student government officials without fear of retaliation.

Shiftspace Gallery, a student-run art gallery, could get its student fees funding fully removed over a Facebook post criticizing a student government association senator. In the post, the gallery pointed out that Kirk was up for re-election and said, “Let’s show him how ignoring and neglecting a significant portion of his constituency affects his poll numbers.”

They were found to be breaking an election policy that prohibited faculty and staff members from using university resources to tell students how to vote. 

Why does SGA get a say in what faculty and staff members say? If a group gets student fees funding, why are they no longer allowed to speak about who they think should be senators or not? They are essentially using student fees money to silence student opinions. 

This policy could become a slippery slope  — effectively squelching political discussion, which is a vital part of a democracy. Student senators are elected by students to represent them and their best interests. If a group feels like their senators are not doing that, they should have the right to publicly share that.

The marketplace of ideas is a vital part of the learning experience on a public university campus. The precedent SGA is setting could lead to a lot of problems in the future, including a student body scared to speak up about its elected officials. 

Shiftspace Gallery is a vital learning experience for students and valuable to the community as a whole. They should not be punished for speaking about how they felt their senator was doing at his job. 

Many spoke at public forum, highlighting how critical the gallery is for students and the community. Shiftspace Gallery deserves to be funded. They should not get their funding taken away by breaking a rule they said they didn’t even know existed. 

When an SGA senator gets elected, they become a public figure who will always be open for criticism. Freedom of speech is a valuable part of a public campus. If students don’t like the kind of job a student senator is doing, SGA senators need to expect criticism. Especially during election season. 

Fund the arts. And don’t silence student voices.