Thousands of students are progressing in their educational careers, ideas, and beliefs at UWG. There is a specific role the University has to offer students the ability to feel that their voices are heard about these matters. For example, UWG has recently placed signs around campus that designate a safe environment for students to speak their minds without fear of being excluded.
Some of these signs, posted by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, say, “Inclusion is for Everyone.” These signs are a part of a movement at UWG meant to create a space for students to dive into matters of inclusion and debate no matter their differences.
“Our main goal at UWG, is to provide policies that uphold a community of health, wellness and inclusion. These principles can be found on our website for student life under pack principles,” said Dr. Xavier Whitaker, associate president for student life and dean of students. “We want students to develop a voice and thrive.”
UWG has created a forum online called, “The Wolf Experience: Student Life” to go over the holistic development of the university experience as well as the four pack principles to creating an environment that allows students to foster community, engage, transform learning, and cultivate a culture of efficiency to be able to leave the university with an educational experience that welcomed free speech, diversity, and inclusion for all.
“Students need to know that they are allowed to speak with freedom of expression without having to worry about being shut down,” said Dr. Scott Lingrell vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. “This would be considered spontaneous expression and it is welcome.”
Spontaneous expression, which is the allowance of students to freely express their beliefs on campus so long as it does not violate campus safety, is allowed at UWG without having to make a reservation, but there is a procedure that benefits in the process if a student wishes to plan an event. It enables students to go through the auxiliary services to gather in the free expression areas which are listed in the UWG first amendment and protected activity on campus authority: UWG policy. The university also has procedures set in place to provide resources for crowd control and security.
UWG provides many spaces for students to meet safely under the policies of the university.
“We have created a schedule that students are able to reserve places such as Love valley or the grassy triangle to host an event, set up tables, have a meeting, invite a guest speaker, and or publically speak themselves,” said Whitaker.
Dr. Lingrell and Dr. Whitaker have worked together for this allowance of student rights and free speech the past several years to create a safe environment for students to feel that their voices do not go unnoticed.
“Our goal is to have students engage in a safe learning community. Sometimes, complex situations will occur that will cause our best thinking and our best selves. We want to support students within our policy, and within that policy, there is room for freedom of expression through spontaneity,” said Lingrell. “For example, if something were to happen in our country showing in the latest 24-hour news, and a student were to be impacted by it, our main goal would be to provide support for that student’s expression of the impact of what is going on in our world today.”
UWG desires to create a space where students know they are safe under policy, their lives are not in danger and they are able to express their views and concerns without fear of punishment, discrimination or a disruption to their education. All policies relating to campus free speech can be found online at the UWG website.