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YAL holds peaceful protest in wake of disturbance

the campus organization Young Americans for Liberty held a banned book reading this past Friday, reading Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western front.”

The Ole Miss Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) held their semesterly banned book reading Friday.

In the wake of the postelection disturbance Tuesday night, the YAL read “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the porch of Bondurant Hall to promote peace, wisdom and liberty rather than hate, ignorance and incivility.

The book was banned in many European countries for its graphic descriptions of World War I.

“We just wanted to emphasize how important free speech is on this campus,” said Bryn Mahan, political science senior and president of YAL. “We chose that book because it portrayed opposition of war. Many students were very receptive to what we were doing.”

The peaceful protest was especially important to the YAL because of the post-election disturbance this past week.

“I think (the reading) went really well,” said Lindsay Krout, junior public policy leadership and political science double major and secretary of YAL.

“After the protests on Tuesday, I think students found it really helpful to see responsible uses of free speech. It helped remind everyone, even (the YAL), that the answer to hate speech is always more uplifting speech.”

Ole Miss is one of only a few universities in the nation with the highest ranking in the country for its free speech code.

In September, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) named Ole Miss the third-best university out of seven in the country
whose policies nominally protect free speech. The Ole Miss YAL worked closely with FIRE to receive the “green light” rating, which is FIRE’s highest individual ranking for a specific university.

According to FIRE, Ole Miss received the high ranking because of changed wording in university codes.

“The only thing that was holding us back was the wording in our policy,” Ole Miss Dean of Students Sparky Reardon said to The Dispatch in September.
“That is the case with a lot of people, too. It’s just not understanding the words and expressions regarding free speech.”

FIRE’s ratings take into account restrictions on expressive rights, including policies on harassment, tolerance, respect, civility, free speech zones, internet usage policies and advertised commitments to free expression.

According to its website, the main purpose of the Ole Miss YAL is “to foster the principles set forth in the United States Constitution among the student body of the University of Mississippi and to organize student activists in preserving those fundamental beliefs.”

“Last year, when (Ole Miss) changed its codes, it allowed our students to do so much more to make our campus a better place,” Mahan said.

“This event was just another example of the good that can be done at Ole Miss.”