Column: Banner controversy at UF is lesson in free speech

A couple of weeks ago, the University of Florida Police Department responded to a situation involving freedom of speech. On a college campus, that's hardly surprising.


Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative student group, had hung a banner on UF's Plaza of the Americas that read "Build the Wall." YAF had a permit to hang the banner from two metal poles at the edge of the plaza. A few hours later, it was torn down and stolen. YAF made a new banner and hung it the next day in the same spot. Someone tried to tear down the banner again, but this time YAF members watched and took video as the two people ran away from the scene.


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It is my fondest hope that the students who attempted to take the YAF banner are more aware of the rights of their fellow students and the risks they take when violating another student's right to freedom of speech, as much as they might oppose the content of that speech. It's also my hope that YAF students understand how speech, while protected, impacts their fellow students.


Diversity and inclusion is crucial to our campus community.


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Read more: https://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/column-banner-controversy-at-uf-is-lesson-in-free-speech-20190312/


David W. Parrott is vice president for student affairs at the University of Florida.