Responding to Hannah Pennington’s Article in the Marshall Parthenon
Free speech does not belong on campus. I say that as someone who is not against the concept of free speech. I say that as a woman who has a voice and as someone who takes advantage of my right to express my opinion nearly every day.
I am no stranger to feeling uncomfortable or vulnerable in a public place. Because of this, I feel that being able to speak up in my voice is an equalizer. Although I hope to never use it, having it makes me feel more comfortable in situations where I am alone and would normally feel somewhat helpless. I shouldn’t have to feel this way, but I do, and being able to speak up about my beliefs gives me confidence.
However, I don’t feel this way on my campus. I don’t feel scared or at risk when I am walking from class to class; I don’t feel I need the power of my own voice as I’m studying in the library or in the Student Center.
I especially do not feel endangered when I see Marshall University police officers patrolling the campus 24/7. Huntington’s police presence is also extremely evident on Marshall’s campus. The city employs nearly 100 police officers, which is statistically above average for our population.
I already feel my voice is protected on Marshall’s campus. I’m sure I would feel the same way at West Virginia University or any other institution in the state. My tuition and tax dollars pay for officers who could use their own voices to speak up for me at school. I do not need to use my own voice with my fellow students and professors when there are those who are trained and qualified to use their voices already within reach.
The state of West Virginia need not give the rest of the country any more reasons to look down upon us. I love my state; its beauty and the kindness of its residents still surprises me each day, even after living here for 21 years. But after recent events from those in the state government, I am tired of defending my home. I am against the bill allowing for free speech. I do not want ‘Free Speech’ added to the list of questionable incidents that have occurred here.
Free Speech does not, and will never, have any place on campuses in West Virginia, including Marshall University. This legislation is being forced upon us by lawmakers who can’t quite seem to understand; not everyone who denounces free speech is someone who wants to rid the country of its First Amendment right. I don’t consider myself a Democrat or a conservative, I’m just thinking logically. For me, politics have nothing to do with the free speech bill. Many of us are simply concerned that we will lose the safety we presently have on campus.
Free Speech do not belong here. Free Speech does not belong at Marshall University. I value my First Amendment right, but I do not feel as if it is being stripped by continuing to follow a campus free speech restriction.
Please, put aside your politics and start listening. Listen to what those who are permitted to have a voice on this campus want. Listen to President Jerry Gilbert. Similar to myself, Gilbert has been around free speech his whole life; he has not denounced your voice, only the concept of allowing you to use it on our campus. Listen to our students. Listen to our staff. Start serving the citizens who elected you and start making us proud of our beautiful Mountain State once more.
The above letter about limiting First Amendment Rights sounds ridiculous. It should. It sounds just as foolish to insinuate that Second Amendment Rights are negotiable. Ms. Pennington really only needs to understand a single message: