February 9, 2017
To the Chapman Black Student Union:
As I’m sure you are well aware, we discovered this morning that a banner reading “all lives matter” was hung on Leatherby Libraries over the African flag banner already hanging there. Since this was your banner, I wanted to update you on how the University is proceeding in response to this incident.
Leatherby Libraries granted your request to honor Black History Month by hanging the Black Lives Matter and African flag banners; they did this in accordance with their policies and we support their decision to do so. In contrast, the student or students who hung the “all lives matter” banner did so without authorization; as a result, it has been removed. Furthermore, I want to clarify that, even if the students had permission to hang the banner, our policies would not permit your banner to be covered. This would violate our policy – and standards of free expression – which states clearly that you may express your message, but not by removing or obscuring an existing message. My staff will be meeting with the student or students involved to clarify our policies and expectations, and to determine if further action is warranted. You took care to go through the appropriate channels to have your banners hung, and I’m sorry that your message was disrupted, even if only for a short
period of time.
I also want to take this opportunity to clarify that – as an institution that highly values and encourages free expression – we removed the banner as a response to the students proceeding without authorization and in a matter inconsistent with University policy because it covered your
existing banner. We are not censoring their message; indeed, part of our discussion with the students involved will be to educate them on the proper avenues to communicate a message. They can hold a forum, sponsor a speaker, or even request permission to hang their banner in a manner consistent with University policy. We applaud BSU for taking the initiative to express your voice in a manner that is consistent with University policy and – more importantly – does not suppress the voices of others. We will encourage other students and student organizations to do the same.
I hope this information is helpful. Of course, if you have any questions I would be happy to discuss the matter with you further.
Jerry Price, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
and Dean of Students