SMU Students Outraged That 9/11 Memorial Flags Must Be Moved - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

SMU Students Outraged That 9/11 Memorial Flags Must Be Moved

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    SMU Students Outraged That 9/11 Memorial Flags Must Be Moved

    Students at Southern Methodist University are rallying to change a new policy that forces the annual 9/11 tribute to a new part of campus. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017)

    Students at Southern Methodist University are rallying to change a new policy that forces the annual 9/11 tribute to a different part of campus.

    For years the student group Young Americans for Freedom has displayed 2,977 American flags on the lawn of Dallas Hall.

    "An iconic location at SMU where thousands of students pass by every day," said Grant Wolf, leader of Young Americans for Freedom.

    The flags honor the lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and are placed on display each year.

    "Increasingly our generation, and in the next couple of years here, new students are either too young or not even born when 9/11 happened," Wolf said.

    A recent change in campus policy means the flags must move to nearby Morrison-McGinnis Park. The change affects all displays for all groups and does not single out the 9/11 memorial, though it is among the most well-known annual displays.

    "A couple of other demonstrations have been more controversial and students have been opposed to the idea," Wolf said. "We see this policy as a barrier to freedom of speech and debate in a public forum on our campus."

    The move has become motivation, with groups from all backgrounds and political leanings reaching across the aisle supporting each other.

    "Student organizations from across the campus — both liberal and conservative — have banded together, and we actually wrote a joint letter to the administration requesting that they overturn this policy," Wolf said.

    They say this setback has brought them together to remind them what they all have in common.

    "It's important to remember the stakes of freedom," Wolf said.

    SMU issued a statement on the policy change, saying, in part:

    "SMU moved all lawn displays from the previous location, a portion of the Dallas Hall lawn, because it is used by campus community members as a place for studying, outdoor classes and a variety of University events throughout the year. The new location, MoMac Park, is an open and centrally located space along Bishop Boulevard, the most prominent drive on campus."

    As of right now there are no plans to move the memorial back.

    The Dallas Morning News is reporting on Wednesday night that Texas Governor Greg Abbott has sent a letter to SMU's President, urging the school to allow the display in it's "traditional place of honor."

    In the letter, Governor Abbot went on to say "This display is not political. It is not partisan. It is not controversial. This is about our nation united,"

    SMU Executive Director of Communications Kent Best tells the Dallas Morning News that the President had received the letter and would respond directly to the Governor.

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