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April 10, 2018 Tuesday 02:12:59 PM IST

This Professor's One- Man Protest for Freedom of Expression in Campus

Policy Indications

Nebraska, US: Retired professor Sam Walker staged a one-man protest Monday against the University of Nebraska Board of Regents' new freedom of expression policy.

Walker, a longtime University of Nebraska at Omaha criminal justice professor, stood in front of a UNO (University of New Orleans) classroom building in a light snow holding a sign that read: "Ban AR-15s." His protest was much less about assault weapons than it was about a regents’ policy that requires NU campuses to create "designated public forum areas."

A rough draft of UNO's statement suggests that its public forum areas be the Pep Bowl, the plaza south of Milo Bail Student Center, the Mammel Hall plaza and a couple of other spots. Walker, 75, said limiting public forums at UNO to a few areas is "unconstitutional and a violation of the First Amendment." People should be able to demonstrate where they wish as long as they don't interrupt classes, performances and other activities, he said.

He had other concerns about the policy, such as how it handles controversial material in the classroom. The policy is "untweakable" and should be rescinded and rewritten, he said.  Regents Chairman Rob Schafer of Beatrice said through a written statement Monday that the university system worked hard on its policy. It's a challenging topic, Schafer said, in which varied interests must be balanced.

The policy "underscores the university's longstanding commitment to freedom of expression while also advancing our goals for civil discourse," he said.