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Students deserve right to see 'Monologues'

This item originally appeared in the February 3, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.

Our rights as students to make choices at this university have not been extinguished but may have been infringed.

The request to show the "Vagina Monologues" and then the subsequent retraction by the Association for Women Students was a mistake but not by the AWS itself.

AWS is one of Tech's oldest and most distinguished women's organizations. This legacy has not been compromised by the "Monologues" issue.

AWS let the concern of university contributors, and the browbeating by some administrators, inhibit their decision to sponsor "The Vagina Monologues."

The community of Ruston has invited itself to the campus and interfered with something that has no actual effect on area residents except that of a conflict with their own individual views.

True, the students of Tech have the right to petition their student government for a redress of grievances and get the 50 cents taken away from the female fee payment to AWS for its support of the "Vagina Monologues."

However, those students should realize they are violating their fellow students' constitutional rights and will cause a First Amendment battle here on campus.

Stanley v. McGrath, a similar appellate court case concerning a university's infringing on rights, said it was a violation of the First Amendment to censor and withdraw any kind of funds because of content.

It is the mission of most universities to provide a cultural, as well as an intellectual, experience.

Of course, many people will find parts or all of Eve Ensler's play offensive and over the top.

Ensler is a playwright, author of the "Vagina Monologues," feminist and founder of V-Day. But this is a First Amendment and freedom of speech issue.

The "Monologues" have been presented in 700 universities, 75 countries and 35 different translations. A message that encourages appreciation of women and empowerment but abhors senseless abuse of women should not be censored.

Tech President Dr. Dan Reneau's choice to let the campus decide is commendable and ensures a campus of diversity; however, other administrative officials have orchestrated an atmosphere of suppression.

The Constitution and its First Amendment guarantee free speech and do not allow suppression of artistic display.

We as students of the university do not shed our constitutional rights when we arrive on campus.

In fact, freedom of expression and diversity should be a part of every college campus and should not be hindered by views of a generation that holds different sets of values.

Every Tech student has a voice.

Though some scenes are graphic in the "Vagina Monologues," they carry an idea that should not be suppressed, and each individual on campus can make an educated decision on whether or not to attend.

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