H*yas for Choice Tabling Update 2.0: Free speech policies to be clarified at later date

At Thursday’s Free Speech and Expression Committee meeting, H*yas for Choice President Laura Narefsky (COL ’14) and Vice President Abby Grace (SFS ’16) had two specific requests for the University.

In an email to Vox, Grace listed the first as a formal written apology stating that the University made a mistake in expelling them from Healy Circle on Jan. 20, and the second as a signature from the department of Student Affairs of a document with specific recommendations that GUSA has compiled as a result of their recent “Free Speech Input” initiative and the Free Speech Forum.

According to Narefsky, Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson personally apologized for the incident that occurred on Jan. 20. “The committee has promised to sign the clarifying document put forward by GUSA by the end of the academic year,” she said. “Everyone’s hope is that this document… will increase clarity and understanding of the policy.”

When asked about the administration’s clarification on these Free Speech and Expression policies, Olson admitted they are still in the process of working on the specific points and did not have a detailed comment at present time. “We are committed to addressing and clarifying these issues, through the Speech and Expression Committee, before the end of this semester,” he said.

GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) told Vox that both he and Vice President Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) have been working with Student Affairs since the beginning of the year to revitalize the Speech and Expression Committee so that it can tackle these important policy issues.

“We have reached out to student groups and opened the policy up to campus-wide feedback in order to identify the top thirteen most challenging aspects for students,” he said. “Georgetown is better when we can all speak up, and this year GUSA has worked with the university to shore up those protections where things were lagging behind.”

According to Tisa, GUSA expects to announce some quick changes within the week that will make the free speech policy more transparent and clarify co-sponsorship protections. “By the end of March we expect clear definition of where students can table, protections for all other forms of speech and expression, and new training for DPS officers and administrators,” he said.

Although H*yas for Choice has faith in these future improvements, Narefsky points out that time is key for this change to be effective. “We are optimistic that the Speech and Expression Committee will take action, but I believe that the end of the year is too long a wait,” she said.

Photo: Matthew Funk/Georgetown Voice

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