Olympia SDS revised
Yesterday's Olympia SDS article revise
FREE SPEECH UNDER FIRE
Olympia Students for a Democratic Society‭ (‬SDS‭) ‬has been suspended by TESC administration for the remainder of the year and will face probation until January next year.‭ ‬Having its student group status revoked,‭ ‬SDS has lost its budget and office‭; ‬they can no longer hold meetings,‭ ‬book events,‭ ‬or use school facilities and equipment.
After Evergreen‭'‬s February‭ ‬14th dead prez concert and the ensuing uprising,‭ ‬the college imposed a ban on all concerts.
Several weeks before the concert moratorium was created,‭ ‬SDS had planned to hold two events on Friday March‭ ‬7th.‭ ‬The administration used the moratorium to cancel SDS‭'‬s pre-scheduled and pre-approved events two days before they were to take place.‭ ‬This was a politically motivated decision seeing as the first event,‭ ‬a panel discussion on the San Francisco‭ ‬8‭ ‬to discuss issues of torture,‭ ‬police and government repression,‭ ‬COINTELPRO,‭ ‬the Black Panther Party and political prisoners,‭ ‬had no musical attributes whatsoever and was put on as a separate event.‭ ‬To follow this was an anti-war folk music performance.‭ ‬The administration‭'‬s decision to cancel this was clearly biased because numerous other musical events were allowed to take place on campus including a concert with‭ ‬300‭ ‬attendees the week prior.‭ ‬SDS and the speakers and performers from the two events decided to go through with the events without administrative approval with the understanding that the cancellations were unjust and a direct attack on free speech.‭ ‬The administration responded by revoking SDS‭'‬s status as a student group.
SDS had been very involved with organizing against police racism in our communities prior to February‭ ‬14th.‭ ‬SDS was the first,‭ ‬and thus far only,‭ ‬organization to officially speak out against the police racism and violence‭ (‬including the hospitalization of one student‭) ‬on the night of the dead prez concert and the administration‭'‬s enthusiastic to cooperate with the police.‭ ‬SDS has been significantly involved with organizing support for those being used as scapegoats by the ongoing police investigation.
SDS submitted an appeal to this decision and on Monday,‭ ‬April‭ ‬7th held a hearing with administrator Tom Mercado.‭ ‬That other student groups back SDS‭'‬s reinstatement was evident by their appearance at the hearing.‭ ‬Representatives from at‭ ‬least eight other student groups were present to support SDS‭'‬ reinstatement,‭ ‬including SESAME,‭ ‬Umoja,‭ ‬MEChA,‭ ‬Center for Radical Education,‭ ‬ATF,‭ ‬EARN,‭ ‬WOCC and the Sabot Infoshoppe.‭ ‬Kelly Beckham,‭ ‬student coordinator of the Evergreen Animal Rights Network,‭ ‬recognizes that‭ "‬freedom of speech has become a completely abused amendment.‭ ‬It‭'‬s a crime nowadays to raise awareness about an issue because you can cause‭ ‬'physical damage‭'‬ to a corporation,‭ ‬which is obviously politically motivated.‭ ‬This has become a common trend,‭ ‬discouraging activism,‭ ‬and now we‭'‬re seeing it here on the Evergreen campus.‭ ‬The fact is,‭ ‬if we want to keep what little freedom of speech we have,‭ ‬we need to be in solidarity with one another.‭"‬ These groups came out in solidarity because they know that banning SDS is opening the door to restricting more and more the free speech of everyone.
During this hearing,‭ ‬members of SDS presented a fat stack of petitions signed by the student body,‭ ‬faculty,‭ ‬and staff demanding full reinstatement of SDS,‭ ‬an‭ ‬apology by the administration,‭ ‬and a restoration of autonomy to the Student Activities department.‭ ‬In one week,‭ ‬SDS received signatures from one-tenth of the student body.
On Monday,‭ ‬April‭ ‬14th,‭ ‬Tom Mercado rejected SDS‭'‬ appeal,‭ ‬but shortened the length of the original suspension.‭ ‬This is still an attack by the administration on our right to freedom of speech,‭ ‬and is specifically an attack on political dissent.‭ ‬Lessening the severity of the blow does not change the nature of the attack.‭ ‬As Malcolm X once pointed out,‭ ‬if an oppressor has stabbed you with a foot-long blade,‭ ‬and then he later pulls it out‭ ‬6‭ ‬inches,‭ ‬there is no reason for you to feel grateful.‭ ‬In truth,‭ ‬even if he pulled it out it would still leave a scar.‭ ‬There is one more appeal available to SDS before all official channels of petition have been exhausted.‭ ‬SDS plans to file their last appeal,‭ ‬but regardless will continue this struggle for a say in the functioning of our campus and our community by all means available and necessary.‭ ‬The time is not only urgent,‭ ‬but one ripe with history.‭ ‬April‭ ‬23rd marks the‭ ‬40th anniversary of the beginning of the student uprising of‭ ‬Columbia‭ ‬University in1968.‭ ‬This month also marks the‭ ‬40th anniversary of the assassination of the man who once said,‭ "‬those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable,‭"‬ the Reverend Dr.‭ ‬Martin Luther King.‭ ‬There perhaps is wisdom to be learned in both.
These next days will be very important and exciting.‭ ‬Stay tuned.
Olympia Students for a Democratic Society
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion