Free speech is often a point of contention on college campuses, but the collective mindset of Seminole State College is one of open discourse and a free exchange of expression.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses recruiters sit outside the library a few times a week and participate in expressing and sharing their religion with others. Although some students may find their ideas appealing and even pursue the religion further, others disagree with the message being spread.
“I think it’s weird to bring religion on campus,” said Ritika Malik, a transient student at SSC.
However, when asked if she would do anything to prevent their ideas from maintaining access, she said, “I’m not against any religions.”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses representatives have not experienced any problems while expressing themselves on campus. The students’ openness on campus and the administration’s unrestrictive speech regulations allow their ideas to flow freely.
The College Democrats of Seminole State College are the largest openly political organization at SSC and frequently participate in open presentation of their ideas and values on campus. The opinions of the Democratic Party can be controversial and not accepted by all students.
“There’s definitely some people who don’t really want political clubs on campus, but for the most part, nobody’s gonna really stop you,” said Patrick Gustafson, president of the organization. Gustafson exclaimed in an open tone that if a student disagreed with his viewpoint he would encourage them to go and form a Republican club.
The club is part of a larger umbrella of college Democrats across different schools in the state who participate in open discourse and push views representative of the Democratic Party.
Humanities classes rely heavily on the opinions of students and thrive on discourse. History is a subject that requires multiple perspectives to understand and can be represented in diverse ways in the academic community.
“If you only just go with one perspective or even two, it’s going to be skewed in a particular direction,” said Dr. Neil Vaz, history professor at SSC.
In his classes, students are expected to present conclusions that they have come to based on research and backed by solid evidence. History can be viewed through many different lenses and as Vaz puts it, “We learn by going in places that we have never gone.”
Opinions from different cultures, religions and philosophies are accepted in the academic discourse. Not only is this discourse beneficial for studying the humanities, but necessary.
The social media policies of SSC are an important component of free speech on campus and the exchange of ideas. The College Democrats have expressed a concern for the development of new policies which could potentially affect how their communication works.
A new policy regarding the ability of leaders in an SSC club to post freely was mentioned by Susan Leavens, social media coordinator of SSC, at a meeting regarding all clubs at the school. The policy proposal regards approval of club advisors before anything is posted on a school club’s social media page.
From the current information, the policy seems to be a double-edged sword.
While the policy would make it harder for leaders and members in an organization to communicate and express their ideas, it would prevent advisors from being misrepresented, as they have their names associated with anything the club puts out.
It is not clear as of now whether advisors will be able to delegate more power to student leaders or members in the club.