By: Alejandro Alonso
The first amendment is a primary right and should be allowed to be exercised on all of campus. It should not be limited to a zone which the school deems acceptable and accommodate students who desire to express their rights granted by the U.S. Constitution.
Colleges and universities are cornerstones of democracy and should allow free speech to further the educational process.
The act of cancelling a forum because certain students felt that it was not the appropriate place for such an event leaves the question on what is free speech. Are we allowed to speak honestly. Once students are not able to speak their minds freely, this allows for indoctrination to be instilled in students.
The East Los Angeles College Foundation and Los Angeles County Business Federation, or, Bizfed planned to host a forum on President Trump’s first 100 days in office. The event was scheduled to be held on April 21and included speakers such as, house representative Hon. Judy Chu Antonio Villaraigosa 41 st mayor of Los Angeles and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
A question and answers slot would have been available after each talking point. The three points would’ve been; First 100 days, the pulse of the region, and California dreamin’. Regional and state leaders were to reflect on California’s place after the first 100 days of the Trump administration and weigh risks and opportunities as California moves forward.
The event was promoted on the ELAC Foundation web page as well as Bizfed’s own webpage and showed the ELAC main campus as the host of the event.
Shortly after the event was posted onto Bizfed and the ELAC Foundations websites, current ELAC students opened webpages of their own titled SHUT-DOWN, a Pro-Trump Forum at ELAC. A page was also opened on social media giant Facebook with comments on the victory of the cancellation of the event. Genesys Sanchez a former ELAC student said they attended the governance meeting and posed the question on why the ELAC Foundation was hosting the event.The following post on Facebook commented on how the administration brought the event notice down on how to keep up the webpage active in case the school administration decided to continue with the forum without consent.
Free speech is the corner stone of everything American and should be protected, even if it is not the popular view point.
As a public institution, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land which allows an unabridged right to freedom of speech.
On ELAC’s South Gate Campus, the free speech zone consists of a table outside the educational building with little visibility and interaction with students, and in size can be comparable to one parking space.
ELAC designates free speech areas, but isn’t all of campus a free speech zone according to the Constitution? We see these battles of democracy being fought around the world most notably in University of California Berkeley where free speech supporters who had a permit to hold a rally clashed against antifascist who had shown up without a permit to protest the event, attacked the attendants, and raised a national question on the boundaries of free speech.
In 2014 Citrus College expanded its free speech zone after a student sued and now covers most of the campus.
Closer to home, Kevin Shaw a student at Pierce College a Los Angeles Community College, was stopped by a campus administrator from distributing the U.S. Constitution on campus because he did not have a permit and was not in the designated free speech zone which 616 feet of the colleges 426 acres campus.
A law suit has been filed by the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, against the LACCD as they believe Shaw’s constitutional rights were not respected.
Students fill out a request and the administration must approve it in order for the free speech zone to be used on the South Gate and main campus. A permit might be denied if ELAC is not able to offer the proper security for an event.
During the Civil Rights era America fought for these rights and became more tolerant of different ideals. During this generation those rights are being lost.
If fear is allowed to take precedence over freedoms, we allow it to control our actions and possible violent actions when exercising the first amendment right can take place.
In UC Berkeley after Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative speaker, was invited to speak at the college when anti-fascist showed up and did not allow attendants to enter the building where the event was scheduled and continued on and destroyed public and private property.
The moment in which speech is confined to a geographical space, an incomplete perspective can be developed and allow students and the general population to be indoctrinated straying us from democracy and citizens will not be willing to ask critical questions which might be posed by our leadership and could allow a transition into a dictatorship which is exactly what the founding fathers of the country feared.