The University of North Dakota yet again demonstrated that they value the First Amendment. In the Spring of 2016, a professor called the cops on the ROTC program. The ROTC program was practicing their drills in the quad on campus. The Professor Heidi Czerwiec felt that she was in danger because she saw their guns. She proceeded to then call the head of the ROTC program, and left a scathing email that was laden with profanity. She said that the ROTC program created a “terrorized environment.” Czerwiec claimed that she was not informed of the training exercises, despite a campus-wide email having been sent out. The story was picked up by news sources across the nation however, they didn’t report on what the Student Senate did about it.
The Student Senate passed a resolution that expressed the fact that we did not support her actions. However, the Senate recognized that she had the first amendment right to say those things. The Student Senate also understands that if you feel you are in danger you should call the police. They chose to defend the program, to stand by the ROTC. They still protected that Professor’s right to free speech, despite disagreeing.
This wasn’t the first time leaders at the University of North Dakota defended free speech. Recently, some racist pictures surfaced of some students. The first picture to surface was one of some students that read, “Locked the black b*tch out.” The second pictures to surface was of some girls with charcoal masks that read, “Black Lives Matter.” In both of the pictures the students were Caucasian.
In response to these pictures several of the students held a Zero-Tolerance rally on September 30th. The students were calling for the University to adopt a Zero-Tolerance policy in regards to racism. There they discussed racism they had experienced in their life, and what this policy would mean.
The University of North Dakota Administration released an email that detailed the findings of their investigation into whether the photos violated the UND Code of Student Life. The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) conducted an investigation in regards to the pictures. It was concluded that neither of the picture incidents were a violation of the UND Code of Student Life. They were not in violation due to the Constitutional First Amendment right that every American has to Free Speech. The President of the University Mark Kennedy also issued a statement that went along with the one from OSRR. There he recognized that the Zero-Tolerance Policy would infringe on students First Amendment rights.
Consistently, the University of North Dakota Administration and Students have supported and defended the First Amendment. UND is committed to providing an environment that ensures students are safe without infringing on their basic rights.
Read the email here:
Let the University know your thoughts by tweeting using the #myUND hashtag.
If you want to read the University of North Dakota’s newspaper article on the Zero-Tolerance rally you can here.