It was ruled in court on April 5 that President Jordan’s decision to cancel Churchill’s original appearance was illegal and fell in the laws of prior restraint.
After weeks of controversy, Eastern’s numerous appearances on The O’Reilly Factor and a controversial decision by President Stephen Jordan, Ward Churchill finally spoke on campus. Not in the safety of a building, but in the middle of the Mall with over 500 onlookers taking on Jordan’s decision.
The University of Colorado professor, who sparked outrage when a piece about Sept. 11 was released, has been under constant scrutiny by the national and local media. But students themselves took a stand against Jordan, defying his actions as a violation of their right to free speech, the act garnering national attention.
Not even the supposed maintenance “closure” of the MPR, which in itself was suspicious, could stop Churchill from speaking. The court order allowed for Churchill to speak in the MPR on Tuesday, but signs around the MPR announced that it was closed “due to maintenance.”
Even so, students gathered and surrounded the Mall, sitting up on the grass hill next to the MPR. Clapping came from the crowd about Jordan’s actions that Churchill said were all made to impress the board that could possibly approve him for president at Metropolis State College. Students also cheered in support of Churchill’s last statement, “Power to the people.”
It is impressive to see students taking an active interest against Jordan’s decision or at least showing up out of curiosity. Students have now sent a powerful message against the administration that their right to free speech will not be violated.
The students of Eastern should, while cheering wildly, also thank a faculty who supported a person’s right to say what they want, even though some people did not believe in Churchill’s statements.
Eastern falls within the definition of a university and to keep our stance as a university, the administration needs to back away from unpopular speakers and our right to free speech. If students want to hear someone speak, let him or her do so, and let students make up their own minds.
The whole point of going to college is being able to think and speak freely without the threat of being personally attacked. This shows that not even a less-than-intelligent journalist who believes he has the whole nation behind him can stop someone’s right to free speech.
The students of Eastern have shown that the world is not ruled by O’Reilly. Churchill’s speech sends a message to O’Reilly and Jordan that neither one of their opinions matter in the realm of free speech.
As court order was handed down against Jordan and the university for canceling Churchill’s speech in the first place, it showed us that free speech matters, no matter what the message is.