In light of protests and a petition acquiring over a thousand signatures, students may be seeing new public participation policy at the University of Nevada, Reno, after student advocates met with university administration.
The Resist Hate Event Series occurred between Thursday, Oct. 3 and Thursday, Oct. 10. Events included performances, guest speakers and lectures. Amidst the Resist Hate Event Series, TurningPoint USA founder Charlie Kirk was invited to speak at the university on Monday, Oct. 7.
The Young Feminists, an ASUN-recognized student organization on campus, requested sandwich boards to be placed around campus during the event series. The Young Feminists wanted the boards to advocate against white supremacy at the university. Some messages included: “UNR Stands Against White Supremacy”, “United To End Racism” and “Recognize, Resist, Dismantle White Supremacy”. They previously had similar sandwich boards in April advocating for sexual assault survivors.
The Young Feminist told the Nevada Sagebrush the boards were originally approved by Lindsay Harris of Scheduling Services. Harris said the sandwich boards were approved to be displayed from Oct. 7 to Nov. 7. The Young Feminist said they then had to go to several departments to get the sandwich boards approved again. These departments include: Democratic Engagement and Special Events, Student Engagement and Scheduling Services.
Vice Provost Jill Heaton denied the Young Feminist’s request for displaying the sandwich boards across campus. Heaton cited UAM 5305 as the reason the request was denied.
UAM 5305 states sandwich boards are temporary signage that may be used on a limited basis to announce campus facilities or special events. They will be used for a maximum of two weeks to announce facilities and a maximum of three days to announce events. There cannot be more than two boards for the same facility or event. The sandwich boards must be weighted and may only be placed in locations approved by Facilities Services.
The Young Feminist said university policy does not define special events and the sandwich boards were mentioned in ASUN’s flyer for the “Resist Hate Event Series”.
“At this point, we find the reasons cited for denying our event inadequate and limiting our ability to send a nonviolent message against white supremacy wrongful,” The Young Feminist said in an email to President Marc Johnson. “We demand a meeting with you, ourselves, and members of the Anti-Racist Coalition to institute policy and protections for students of color, LGBTQ students, and other students who have been targeted by actions and policies, such as those used by TPUSA.”
The Young Feminist reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union. The Young Feminist said the ACLU found UAM 5305 too vague.
After the rejection of the signs, the students protested as individuals—rather than a club—outside the Joe Crowley Student Union on Monday, Oct. 7.
The students involved met with several university administrators on Friday, Oct. 11 at 11 a.m. In addition to the Young Feminists Executive Board and President Johnson, the following people were in attendance:
- Romando Nash, Associate VP for Student Life Services
- Eloisa Gordon-Mora University Diversity and Inclusion Officer
- Patricia Richard, Chief of Staff & Assistant VP of Constituent Relations
- Thomas Hassen, ASUN Senator for the College of Liberal Arts
- Duncan Boren, YDS of Reno Co-Chair
- Tyler Stewart, YDS of Reno Co-Chair
- Avory Wyatt, Native American Student Organization President
At the meeting, the Young Feminist advocated for student representation on committees who make policies about how the university discusses diversity and inclusion.
“The University of Nevada, Reno’s Mission Statement states that it “is committed to a culture of excellence inclusion, and accessibility”; however, the University’s recent actions directly contradict this Mission,” The Young Feminist said. “We see our issue and situation opening up a bigger conversation and see this as a problem of urgency.”
According to Young Feminists Secretary Dulce Medina, the meeting resulted in steps in the “right direction”. This includes policy changes, which will be decided by student leaders—both from the clubs involved and from ASUN.
The policy changes are planning to be expedited and will be done no later than Jan. 1, 2020.
Olivia Ali and Taylor Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush