Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott was not happy when he learned that Southern Methodist University in Dallas had decided to relocate a 9/11 memorial to a less prominent place on campus. In response, Abbott wrote a letter to SMU President R. Gerald Turner telling him so.
Last week, SMU's Young Americans for Freedom chapter submitted a request to the university to hold a 9/11 memorial display on the Dallas Hall lawn, a heavily trafficked area of the campus. The university told SMU YAF chapter President Grant Wolf that the display would be relegated to Morrison-McGinnis Park — more commonly known MoMac Park — in order to “avoid messages that are triggering, harmful, or harassing.”
Abbott sent a letter to Turner on Wednesday, asking him to restore the display to it's "traditional place of honor" on Dallas Hall lawn as it has been since 2010, the Dallas News reported.
"This display is not political. It is not partisan. It is not controversial. This is about our nation united," Abbott wrote. "Each flag represents a life taken, the soul of a family destroyed. Yet each flag also represents a symbol of hope, for as a people united we remain unbowed.
"I ask that the 9/11 display not be relegated to a far corner of campus. It should be celebrated in its heart," the governor wrote.
Turner wrote back and stated that the university was putting the memorial at the heart of the campus, as MoMac Park is geographically at the center of the campus.
"The new location is, in fact, in the heart of campus, not 'a far off corner,'" Turner wrote. "Therefore if the heart of campus is where it should be, MoMac Park would fit that description more than Dallas Hall since Dallas Hall is one of our northern-most buildings."
On Thursday, Wolf said he was glad to have the support of the governor. He wrote a letter thanking Abbott for joining YAF's cause and affirmed that Dallas Hall was indeed a more prominent place. Wolf added that the university's prioritizing of feelings over patriotism was "shameful":
You rightly identiﬁed Dallas Hall lawn as the “traditional place of honor.” Thousands of students pass by the historic heart of our campus, Dallas Hall, every single day. You would be hard-pressed to find an SMU student claiming there was a more prominent place on campus. However, our University continues to iterate its priority of preventing “coercion and harassment.” We believe prioritizing sensitivity over honesty, freedom, and patriotism is shameful.
SMU eventually walked back its language about the display potentially being triggering and harmful, after students expressed concern that the new policy would restrict free speech.
"SMU apologizes for the original inappropriate wording that was used in the new policy on campus displays," the university said in a statement. "That language — regarding messages that are triggering or harmful — was added earlier in July and had not gone through the appropriate approval process."
(H/T: College Fix)