Valdosta State Students defend their right of free speech

Campus authorities tried getting students to move away from the University Center where Governor Nathan Deal was having a luncheon. The students stood their ground.

Here’s the video.

Protesting Gov. Nathan Deal at Valdosta State University (VSU), 16 September 2011.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

The students had been standing on the sidewalk in front of the University Center. The press asked them to come stand by the fountain for a photo-op. But it was hot there. The press had gone inside to set up for the press conference. The students came back across the street for shade.

When the students were standing in the shade by the University Center entrance, campus security came out and said the students didn’t have permission to be there; they should stand on sidewalk. They asked who was in charge. Kathryn Grant said she was the leader. She handed security the sheet of paper she had handed out to students, and told the security people that the First Amendment said they did have the right. Security said, You’re not a student. She said, Yes I am. They said, You had to get permission. She said she was in class that morning. They said that was not an excuse, and the students needed to have something.

Bobbi Anne Hancock spoke up, and said, We have the right to be here; we tried to have the right permission, but we only found out yesterday the governor was going to be here. Austin Batchelor Sullivan said, I only found out last night. There was more back and forth.

Meanwhile, one security person went inside. He came back out, motioned to the security person talking to the students, and whispered in his ear. He then said, Dr. Levy said it’s OK for you to be here, but you can’t bring the signs in when you come to the press conference. Dr. Louis H. Levy is the interim president of VSU.

After that, a girl came out from the building, dressed in black pants, bow tie, apparently working as caterer with Student Services. She identified herself as from the student newspaper, the Spectator. The students were happy to talk to her.

More about this event in this category.


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