Thursday, March 22, 2007

A war with one man, and no enemy

So I had a post planned full of ranting and raving about how the SEC was trampling my first amendment rights.

I deleted that crap five minutes ago.

What actually occurred today was that I managed to pout for a good half a day and the SEC took a small step towards forming new policy about artistic speech. Notice how I didn't say student speech? This is partially about that, but more importantly it's about focusing on having a set of standards for content across the SEC.

The current policy about controversial content is simple. If the adviser thinks it may be offensive, then the content is not cleared. I do not know if this is written policy, but it's what I've faced over the semester. This policy is basically de facto censorship. But after talking to advisers, chairs, friends, and myself, I would like to announce a new draft policy that I will be bringing up next week.

1) Content in SEC events can only be prohibited if it does not meet the "community standards" of the attendees of the event and the members (staff and students) of the SEC. (This protects first amendment rights with regard to obscenity laws.)
2) If the content of the event may be considered offensive (as decided by the adviser) then a disclaimer must be attached to every printed advertisement of the event as well as signs placed in front of the event entrance.
3) If the content of the event does not reflect the views of the SEC, the Texas Union, the University of Texas, or the specific location of the event, a notice of such must be placed in front of the event and all print materials handed out during the event.

These three points should help with allowing more controversial content into artistic events and provide protection from complaints.

What this all comes down to is the future. The future for Madrigal Night Live is in making great sketch comedy. Great comedy sometimes confronts society with itself. In order to do that you have to have the freedom to say thing everyone won't agree with. I really think that we can grow into this future and I believe that with good communication and setting new policy we can do it.

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