By Ripon Media in College Days on September 27, 2016
By: Hannah Tetzlaff
After last year’s incident with controversial posters, the college is tearing down the old poster policy and putting a new one in place.
Last year, the Feminist Club created a stir with their vulva-shaped posters promoting sex week and an event called “ One Big Sexy Blowout.”
Due to complaints, the posters were thought to be in violation of the college’s policy and as a result, were censored. However, the Feminist Club found fault in the policy’s vague wording.
“Previously, [it stated] ‘Posters must be in good taste,’” Vice President and Dean of Students Chris Ogle said. “…They didn’t feel like they understood what was and was not acceptable which led to some confusion and tension.”
According to Lauren Hince, former vice president of Student Senate and a member of the Feminist Club, the policy was based on personal opinions.
“The biggest issue with the other policy is that it was vague and subjective,” she said. “The previous policy used language such as, ‘good taste’ but who is the determiner of good taste?”
Hince sent the college’s policies to an advocacy group called Freedom for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The group ranks school policy on a red-yellow-and-green-light system.
“FIRE found several issues with our policies, one of them being our posting policy which earned itself a yellow light,” Hince said.
The students took their concerns to the Student Senate to revise the policy.
“They expressed their concern to the Student Senate [and] I asked the Student Senate to convene a group of senators to address this topic,” Ogle said. “We had long conversations and this wording [for the new policy] almost exactly came out what the Student Senate recommendation was, so that was what we followed.”
The new policy states, “Posters may not promote violence, contain abusive/ hateful language that targets individuals or members of a certain race, gender, sexuality and/or ethnic group.”
The college believes the new policy will prevent future misunderstandings.
“Hopefully, it specifies with more clarity [the] guidelines,” Ogle said.
Hince feels that this is a big step in the right direction.
“I think this situation sets a precedent for other student groups,” she said. “Organizations now know that if there is an issue on campus, they can bring it to Student Senate.”
Besides improving existing policies, the college introduced new ones this fall.
“We, also — which most campuses across the board, across the country did — outlawed hover boards on campus due to fire safety issues,” Ogle said. “They started on fire on some campuses. In late spring, there was a notice that came out saying schools are strongly recommended to outlaw these or fear risk of fire.”
The college also added a new policy banning drones.
“Because again it is another new technology…drones are not allowed on or over the campus unless approved by the vice president,” he said. “That policy is because we are trying to protect privacy.”
Though policies are continually improved and altered, students may disagree with them. If students are concerned with certain policies, they can address the Student Senate or contact Dean Ogle. Policies can be found in the updated student handbook.