Members of H*yas for Choice attempted tabling in Healy Circle this morning to test statements that GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson made at Thursday’s forum on free speech, but GUPD officers forced them to move outside the gates within 18 minutes, according to Abby Grace (SFS ’16), Vice President of H*yas for Choice. The group was attempting to table during the Right to Life event that was occurring in Healy Hall.
At the forum, Tisa and Olson said that the University’s Speech and Expression Policy did not limit free speech to Red Square, and that apparent rule was only enforced due to confusion. They said H*yas for Choice was not necessarily confined to that location.
The policy itself says, “The individual or group hosting such an event must reserve the place where it will occur, in accordance with registration requirements. However, the area adjacent to the ICC (“Red Square”) and Leavey Lobby (in inclement weather) shall be available, without prior arrangement, for individuals and groups during daylight hours for the purpose of exchanging ideas.”
The policy says that these events cannot interfere with scheduled classes or the ability to hear and see other events (in the case of a protest, for example).
GUPD removed the groups table from Healy Circle with the reasoning that Tisa and Olson had just refuted. “[GUPD] said that we were moved because Red Square was the only place free speech was allowed on campus,” Grace said. “[GUPD], for whatever reason, does not view the policy the same way, even when confronted with bullet points 4-6 in the preamble of the Free Speech and Expression Policy and the numerous places where it outlines different individual’s right to protest.
GUPD has not yet responded to Vox‘s requests for comment.
Grace pointed out that the One Georgetown, One Campus campaign was able to hold an at Healy Circle without prior permission and GUPD did not attempt to stop them. Tisa confirmed that the campaign did not make a reservation for the event and the organizers did not have any “run-ins” with GUPD.
“In my mind, this solidifies the fact that [GUPD] was (and continues to) discriminate against H*yas for Choice,” Grace said. H*yas for Choice, while it has no issues with the Speech and Expression Policy, hopes that University will change what the group sees as “unequal” and “incorrect” implementation of the policy.
Additional reporting by Marisa Hawley
Photo: Max Blodgett/Georgetown Voice