Letters to the Editor

Airhart attorney speaks out on client’s behalf

Dear Editor:

As attorney for David Airhart, I gained some insight into the facts and issues.

According to the Stater editorial board, Kent State never threatened to expel Dave. The written conduct charge states he could be dismissed from the university. Are Kent State officials arguing students should not take a threat of discipline seriously?

This was a safety issue. Whose safety? Dave signed a waiver for himself. The conduct charge suggested a concern for others on the climbing wall. But there was no member of the public on the wall by the time Dave reached the top. Rather, recruiters chased Dave from both sides of the wall. It was claimed that, by climbing down the back, Dave could mess up the safety mechanics. But the rigging and hydraulics are nestled in the curve of the wall, not sticking out through the bars across the back on which Dave put his feet and hands. The only real safety issue arose when a recruiter yelled foul epithets and pulled on Dave as he climbed down.

Kent State protects free speech. I agree that, over the years, Kent State has adopted “free speech” rules which are largely permissive of political demonstrations. Probably most university administrators did not want to pursue conduct charges against Dave Airhart and probably agree with his anti-war message. In fact, it is likely only a few gung-ho police and U.S. Army recruiters were pushing for the conduct charge (and the misdemeanor criminal charge).

However, Kent State caved in to the false “safety” argument and issued the conduct charge. The decision issued Wednesday morning, to refer the dispute to “mediation,” could have been made at the beginning. Or, they could have refused to take any action at all.

I am certain that, if Dave had unfurled a banner saying, “Keep the troops in Iraq,” there would have been no push for discipline or prosecution.

And if Dave’s supporters had not brought this incident to regional and national attention, the conduct hearing would have proceeded.

Nancy Grim

Attorney to David Airhart


There are better ways to share anti-war views

Dear Editor:

I support David Airhart’s right to express his views about the war in which the United States is currently involved; however, why is it that every student at Kent State with an opinion feels like they have an obligation to jam it down my throat?

Freedom of speech has its limits. You can say whatever you want until you start violating the rights of others. I feel like I have the right to attend this university without being accosted every time I try to walk by the Student Center by some student political extremist or religious nut trying to force his or her ideas on me.

Write an editorial, post fliers or hold a peaceful rally if you have an idea that you feel strongly about. Freedom of expression mandates that you have the right to do so, but don’t try to disrupt somebody else’s event (even if you think it’s wrong) just for shock value. Free speech is not about suppressing the expression of others.

I am interested in Airhart’s views. As he has said himself, he has served in all theaters in the “Global War on Terror” and that affords him a unique perspective. Clearly, he volunteered to be a Marine, which would make one assume he is not a pacifist or against war as a general rule.

So, what is it that is different about this war? Why is it unjust? His answers would be informative and of great value to the student body at Kent State. Hanging a peace banner on a rock climbing wall does little to educate anyone of anything.

Tom Rose

Graduate Student, Biomedical Science