The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Free speech should not be harassment

    I am writing in regard to the Sept. 28 editorial by Edward Sanders regarding the free speech zones on campus. I usually enjoy his columns, but I believe he dropped the ball on this one. Evangelist Michael Venyah has been a presence here at Mississippi State for a number of weeks, and I think the university was right in limiting him to the free speech zone. I believe that MSU students have a right to walk freely on campus without being harassed, and the university is required to protect this right.
    Sanders does not believe that this evangelist’s preaching constitutes undue harassment to students. However, I have witnessed numerous instances where this man singled out students based on how they were dressed or how they were acting. When my roommate passed by him several weeks ago, she happened to laugh because she found his behavior humorous. The evangelist then began shouting in her face about how she was going to hell and pursued her into The Union screaming at her. Just talk to almost any student on campus, and they will probably have heard of or experienced a similar incident.
    The university restricted him to the free speech zone so that he would not be able to start confrontations as easily. I respect Mr. Venyah’s right to preach what he believes is the message of God, but his right to free speech does not trump our rights as students. Venyah has a right to say what he wishes. He does not, however, have a right to make individual students the target of demeaning remarks.
    I would also like to commend Ryan Starrett for his excellent column on love as the focus of Christianity. Those of us who profess the Christian faith should not forget the greatest commandment of Christ: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
    Christina Matson is a sophomore biological engineering major.

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    The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
    Free speech should not be harassment