Undergraduate Student Government voted last week to create a lighter resolution allowing for students to display window art at the discretion of residence hall directors and oppose Ohio State’s decision to ban window art on campus.
The ban, which began this semester, prohibits hanging anything on residence hall windows.
The resolution states that USG supports a policy change, allowing for students to hang materials that do not damage the window if it has 25 percent transparency. The sponsors of the resolution plan to meet with Office of Student Life to determine what would be hate and unsafe speech under this resolution.
Although it passed, the resolution is non-binding, meaning that it does not result in a direct and immediate change in policy.
Nick Davis, a fourth-year in natural resource management and senator for the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said the ban violates students’ right to free speech.
“If I had it my way, there wouldn’t be any art ban; there wouldn’t be any regulations because I’m a huge proponent of free speech,” Davis said.
Davis said a lighter regulation could work, noting sayings like “Make America Great Again” are not offensive, but a symbol such as a swastika should not be allowed.
Daniel Pohlod, a second-year in finance, went to the meeting to express his support for the resolution and urged representatives to vote in its favor.
“I just kind of see it as ridiculous, you know, not letting students express themselves and put what they want on their windows,” Pohlod said in a statement. “As long as it doesn’t harm the windows, I don’t really see it as a problem.”
When asked about the resolution, Dave Isaacs, spokesman for the Office of Student Life, pointed to his initial statement on the matter.
“We annually review our Residence Hall Handbook. We have similar guidelines for Gateway, and we are rolling it out to other Columbus campus residence halls,” the statement said. “We have also benchmarked other schools’ guidelines and have found this to be a common approach to windows and window coverings. The university maintains the discretion and right to determine use of windows, walls, doors and other university spaces.”
However, a major point of contention in the passing of the resolution revolved around if there is a specific clause within the Student Life Code of Conduct that clearly defines hate speech.
The discussion lasted for more than 30 minutes, with more than 10 senators questioning how the resolution will define hate speech and who would regulate what is and isn’t allowed.
USG president Andrew Jackson, a fourth-year in political science and spanish, said there is no guarantee that Ohio State will change the ban, but administrators welcome all student feedback.
“USG would just tell [administrators] that it is what the general assembly voted on and it passed, so technically this is what the student body wants,” Jackson said. “Then from there, it’s up to the administration to listen to the students.”
Correction, 9/12: This article previously stated Nick Davis is a second-year. In fact, he is a fourth-year.