They say youth is wasted on the young. Naiveness often reigns supreme but this is by no means from any lack of intellect. When a kid fly’s the nest to further their education at the average age of eighteen, they’re generally speaking, smart as whips. But, they haven’t lived. They haven’t experienced life at its worst.
Because students often display tendencies of banding together for the most popular cause of the day, with the question of why given little if no regard, when they turn out to protest, they’re all in. “Someone hand me a sign!”
This is not exactly how things went down at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, but only due to the pandemic. Students who would have ordinarily busted out of their dorm rooms with whirlwind force weren’t there.
Had the students been on campus, they would have been protesting against a pro-Trump “Back the Blue” rally scheduled to take place across the street from the campus.
The student council had already tried their hand at pressuring the school’s administration to step in and help. Instead of heeding their call, Mount Holyoke College reminded the younguns of something called the First Amendment. They refused to interfere.
The rally was being put on by Pioneer Valley for Trump 2020 and local corrections officers. It was licensed and legit. The students found were informed of the event through an Instagram post.
The post read as follows. “I know that most students aren’t on campus, but there’s a ‘Back the Blue’ (pro-police) and pro-Trump standout at the village commons in South Hadley this weekend. It’s right across the street from campus. I’m only reaching out because I hope student pressure on admin can create a response from the college.” Well. It did. Just not what they wanted.
Because of the students being gone, multiple student organizations took the reigns by drafting a petition entitled “Safety for LGBTQ+ and POC members,” which collected more than 1,600 signatures.
Here is how it read. “This is outrageous and we demand a response from the administration of Mount Holyoke. By maintaining silence about the upcoming events, the school is encouraging a gathering of people who could threaten our community’s safety.”
“Although Mount Holyoke is a space that encourages the opinions of all students to be shared, they should not tolerate the sharing of harmful rhetoric. The implication of the stance held by the ‘Back the Blue’ rally is in direct opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement and the safety of all POC groups and LGBTQ+ community.”
“This goes against the inclusive and progressive message of Mount Holyoke as an institution and a community.”
A student, only known as Meghan, issued her own response in rebuttal of the petition. “If people want to gather in a safe manner for a cause that brings them together, who are Black at MHC to tell them they can’t? Police have been targeted this year too, whether Black at MHC want to recognize it or not. The Black at MHC organization wouldn’t appreciate it if people wanted to shut down a campus BLM protest in the way they’re calling for now, so why is this petition justified?”
Sandra Scarlatoiu, Mount Holyoke College Republicans President, added these words in response. “Cops place their lives on the line every day to help others. No one is asking them to do it. And considering all the chaos and harmful rhetoric that has been spread around about the police, it’s important that we stand up for them.”
And lastly, here the school’s response. “Participants will gather on the public area around the gazebo, which is not owned by the College.”
“The right to peaceful assembly, and indeed to free speech, are protected in the First Amendment, and together with the freedoms of association, petition and the press are what we understand more broadly as freedom of expression.”
“To defend free speech is to defend the most fundamental and most important of human freedoms, even when, as the ACLU article makes explicit, some views expressed “are antithetical to the very freedom the First Amendment stands for,” otherwise “no one’s liberty will be secure. In that sense, all First Amendment rights are ‘indivisible.’”
“The College cannot, then, prevent an assembly from being held on town property in proximity to the campus.”
In case you are unaware, Mount Holyoke is the same college that placed former Campus Police Chief Daniel Hect on administrative leave because the students found out he was a Trump supporter and demanded it.
Of course, once these students are all graduated, getting fat, and living the American dream, they’ll look back and wonder, “what was I thinking back then.”
And as far as the school goes, at least in this instance, credit must be given where credit is due.