Using the Mural: Let’s Lay Down Some Ground Rules
Twice in the past few weeks groups of students have used the mural in the library lobby as a space to either promote a particular idea or raise awareness for an issue that they feel passionate about. The first turned the wall into a collage of pictures and quotes highlighting the similarities between the present United States’ current immigration policy and their rejection of Jewish immigrants during WWII. The second sought to raise awareness of sexist comments being made on campus, as well as YU related online forums by posting name-disassociated printouts of those comments for all to see.
Considering the general complexity of the Jewish community that we live in as well as the heated political climate in which we currently find ourselves, I would not be surprised if students continue to utilize the mural in this way as the year progresses. I personally hope that they will. The students of our university are passionate about many important ideas and it is beneficial to have a recognized space in which they can promote their views in a public fashion.
However, if we are to continue using the mural in this way, and grant the practice of doing so legitimacy, then it would be to everyone’s benefit if we the students came up with some ground rules to make sure it operates smoothly and properly. Here are some suggestions:
- Every display must taken down within twenty-four hours by the students who posted it:
The purpose of this rule would be twofold. First, it prevents anyone one opinion or idea from becoming a too substantial a part of the school’s scenery. Second, and perhaps more importantly, this rule would likely prevent the displays from being torn down by people who disagree with them. If a student vehemently disagrees with the ideas portrayed on the wall and there is no rule forcing the people who originally posted it to take it down after a period of time, the bothered student will feel compelled to take action into his or her own hands and tear it down. If such students knew that it would only be displayed for twenty-four hours they would likely let it remain on the wall for the interim.
- No one can tear down any display within 24 hours of its being put up:
There is no way to actually enforce this rule. However, if we care enough about campus dialogue and the uninhibited exchange of ideas then perhaps the student government can email the student body condemning this action if it ever again takes place.
- No personal attacks:
Nothing on the wall should ever be attacking any particular students or faculty.
- Nothing vulgar or risqué:
While freedom of expression is important, we must also taken into account that the mural is in a very public and unavoidable area and is also in very close proximity to the Beit Midrash.
At this point I would like to turn over the conversation to the student body. Would any of these rules be beneficial? Are there those you disagree with? Are there others that you would suggest? What are your thoughts?