Free speech boards taken down at UW-Eau Claire

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)-- It wasn't exactly what students involved in the group, Young Americans for Liberty, expected to see this Monday morning.

“The writing happened and everything kind of blew up from there.” Words from UW-Eau Claire senior Brad Hanson, who created two free speech boards last week to honor Constitution Day.

“We had a celebration put together, pretty much as just a way to celebrate free speech where students can come up and write anything they want on it,” says Hanson.

Two boards, that by Monday had turned into something Hanson didn't expect, reading ‘UWEC is racist’ and ‘Trump sucks’, among other things.

“I spent a lot of time getting these ready, hauling them on campus because it was Constitution Day and it and I am trying to support free speech. Obviously there's a lot of contentious and vulgar things on it, but I’m a little upset that somebody brought paint on campus, presumably in the night and covered up a lot of other people's things,” says Hanson.

According to UWEC Assistant Chancellor Mike Rindo, the boards were supposed to be taken down before the weekend anyway, according to the university's signage policies, which only allow boards to stay up for a certain period of time.

“In this instance, you have a reservation in this part of the campus for this period of time to put this board up to have students express free speech and at the end of the activity, it was incumbent upon the student organization, according to our policies and procedures on campus, then to remove that,” says Rindo.

Rindo says administrators had no role in asking the student organization to take down the signs, only to obey the policy they agreed to.

“The place of the administration is to respect what the students say, to respect what faculty and staff say and not to be out there to say, if you say something offensive, we're going to take action. There was no action taken by the administration. This was simply a matter of a student organization that agreed to have an activity, take down the boards at a certain area of time,” says Rindo.

“If these people think Eau Claire is racist or Trump sucks, they have the right to say that. I might not agree with how they went about it, but it's free speech,” says Hanson.

This is the third year the student organization has had the free speech boards on campus.

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