Will erecting a "free speech zone" sign in campus be helpful to students? Administrators at the University of New Mexico believe that it will prevent uncomfortable situations, especially when gospel preachers show up in the campus to talk about Jesus Christ.
The school updated its Free Speech Policy to include the set up of signage in specific areas around the university after the spring break. On Monday, several signs were visible near the area where Ryan Denton, a member of the Christ in the Wild Gospel Society, talked about the Gospel. He shared some photos on Facebook.
The signs warn other students that controversial topics might be discussed in the free speech zones. The school also made it clear that it doesn't share the opinions of the individuals who speak in the public venue.
"If we don't put up the signs, we get many requests to remove and ask speakers to leave," Ryan Lindquist, the school's director of student activities, told the press. But some students have complained that the signs are causing more confusion.
"When you put up those signs, it really seems like you're taking people away from going to those type of events because they might not be comfortable with it," Mary Lopez, a senior, said.
Some students also point out that America is already a free speech zone, which means that controversial opinions can be expected during discussions or conversations. Hence, people do not need a warning sign for this.
The school, however, insisted that the signs would be helpful in alerting other passersby. Some discussions turn to heated debates, where participants could end up screaming at each other in the free speech zones.
Lindquist also said that if the school cannot control the content of those engaging in public discussion, then it's only right to warn people about what might potentially happen. However, the school has not yet decided if the sign will be a permanent facet of the campus.