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Volume 68, Issue 144, Monday, June 2, 2003


Staff Editorial


                           Bridget Brown       Matthew Dulin      
Geronimo Rodriguez      Keenan Singleton     Lisa Street

Freedom rules

The case has spawned more than its fair share of debate.

The Pro-Life Cougars sought University approval of an anti-abortion display in 1998. When the request was denied by Dean of Students William Munson, the Pro-Life Cougars filed suit, claiming the policy that empowered Munson was unconstitutional.

The display was eventually allowed on campus on spots labeled "free speech zones" by the University. The display incited debate across campus about the display itself, which some called distasteful, others effective, as well as debate about the controversial issue of abortion.

Another debate was brewing in the courts was the UH policy a violation of first amendment rights? In March, a federal court ruled it was. UHis new policy now remains unchallenged, setting up "free speech zones" under certain guidelines.

A court order issued last month denied a UH appeal on the courtis previous decision to declare the Universityis old free speech policy unconstitutional.

The court also denied a Pro-Life Cougarsi motion to challenge the Universityis new policy because the organization withdrew the suit.

The court order, signed by Ewing Werlein, Jr., a U.S. district judge, summarily urged both parties to seek "in good faith" an amended policy that resolves the issues in dispute while still fulfilling UHis educational goals.

The court stipulated that within 30 days of the order issued May 12 ? the two sides must file a joint report as to the progress of their efforts to settle the dispute out of court. If some agreement isnit reached, the court says, other mediation will be sought.

The Daily Cougar supports the Pro-Life Cougarsi efforts to secure freedom of speech on college campuses and isnit keen on the idea of "free speech zones" on a public campus. We also recognize that both sides have valid interests.

In this latest ruling, the court is right on the money. By declaring the previous policy unconstitutional, similar policies at other universities are in peril faced by a strong court precedent. In the meantime, finding an equitable solution is best worked out between the two parties.

Finding the balance between freedom and restriction lies in their hands. Let us hope UH can set a standard that universities around the country will benefit from following.
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