Resident advisors at Clemson University were made to take a class on the First Amendment this month, after they previously banned references to the Harambe meme in student dorms.
The mandatory class took place on January 10th, according to the College Fix, and outlined the basic rights of every American.
“Led by Dr. Leasa Evinger, the Clemson Director of Residential Living, the training emphasized that RAs have a responsibility to uphold students’ First Amendment rights,” reported the College Fix. “It launched with a video that introduced RAs to basic First Amendment protections, such as the right of citizens to criticize the government. The video also examined the limits of free speech, including harassment, vandalism and threats.”
“A component of the video also addressed college and university policies outlawing so-called ‘hate speech,’ which are routinely struck down in court. Several RAs reacted with surprise upon learning “hate speech” is fully protected by the First Amendment, the source in attendance said,” they continued. “After the video, Evinger outlined some of the Clemson dorm residents’ First Amendment freedoms that RAs may not infringe upon. Specifically, any part of a student’s space, define as their room or apartment, including the exterior of their door, is theirs for their First Amendment expression. The RAs were told they cannot demand — or ask — students to remove anything from their door or from their room.”
Resident advisors were reportedly confused by the rights provided by the First Amendment, and repeatedly asked whether they could remove items from dorm doors that could be deemed as offensive.
“What if someone was making fun of Greek Life by making a sign for their door that said ‘Eta Theta Epsilon’ which spells out ‘HOE?’ Would we be allowed to take action towards that or would they just be allowed to have ‘hoe’ on their door?” asked one Resident advisor in the class.
“Could they post pictures of alcohol, bongs, and like, whatever they want?” asked another.
In September, an email was sent out to residential advisors instructing them to remove any material in student accommodation halls related to the internet meme Harambe.
“We are no longer allowing any reference to Harambe (or any other spelling) to be displayed on doors, halls, billboards, or windows,” declared the email. “Harambe should not be displayed in a public place or a place that is viewed by the public… If residents are asking why they have to take them down you can share that there was a report from an individual about a meme being offensive and bias [sic] in nature and as a result all Harambe references are no longer allowed within our community.”