Our View: Students have a right to utilize the first amendment

Stater Editors

Youngstown State University’s campus rock was marked Monday with messages in support of ISIS that read “France deserves destruction,” “YSU supports ISIS” and “We are coming.”

While some might find these messages disturbing, legally, students have a right to express themselves however they choose because they are protected by the First Amendment. The school also does not have guidelines on what someone can or cannot paint on the rock. Groundskeepers at YSU immediately painted over the rock after finding the messages.

Campus rocks are considered forums for free speech and a place where graffiti is accepted and even encouraged. Depending on how important students feel the message is, the rock can remain the same anywhere from an hour to a week. “The Rock” is a place on campus where people can anonymously express their views, whether they are positive or negative.

Kent State faced a similar situation last year when a swastika was placed on The Rock and was promptly painted over. In response the Black United Students executive board wrote a letter to the editor about racism on campus and the university administration’s lack of response. While Kent State did not release an official statement regarding the swastika, YSU released a statement regarding safety, and their campus police is investigating the matter.

The Stater supports people’s rights to freely express their ideas and opinions because of the right to free speech, but we don’t support this message. If students want to paint political messages, it is their right to do so, but if the intent was to scare students, the plan backfired. Students have united instead.

The above editorial is a consensus opinion of The Kent Stater editorial board, whose names are listed above.