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Students, Greg Abbott Upset About Moving 9/11 Memorial After SMU Policy Change

SMU Young Americans for Freedom
Students place flags on the Dallas Hall lawn at Southern Methodist University in its annual memorial display in September 2016.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Abbott asks SMU to reinstate original location for 9/11 display; Fort Worthian missing at Grand Canyon; Dallas’ first Latino stage company needs a new leader; and more.

Update, Aug. 10: Southern Methodist University officials changed their minds, letting students displays, including the 9/11 memorial, continue to be featured on Dallas Hall Lawn. The agreement reserves a space for displays while maintaining an area for other events.


Original post from Aug. 3:


A group at Southern Methodist University is unhappy that it has to move its annual 9/11 memorial display to a less prominent part of campus. And members have Gov. Greg Abbott on their side.


The Young Americans for Freedom group has placed thousands of American flags on the university’s Dallas Hall lawn every September since 2010, the Dallas Morning News reports. But, members were recently told to relocate the display to Morrison-McGinnis Park in accordance with a new campus policy.


Dallas Hall lawn is used for classes and a variety of events, SMU spokesman Kent Best said. The university now prohibits all displays from the lawn and instead issues approvals for events to be held at the park.


Abbott sent a letter to SMU President R. Gerald Turner Wednesday, urging the school to permit the flags in their "traditional place of honor." Turner defended the site change in a letter, saying the park is actually "in the heart of campus." 


"Therefore if the heart of campus is where it should be, MoMac Park would fit that description more than Dallas Hall since Dallas Hall is one of our northern-most buildings," Turner said in the letter. 


SMU officials last month drafted a policy to ensure displays didn't include "harmful or triggering" messages, the Morning News reports. They revised the policy Tuesday, removing the language from the earlier version as inappropriate. They said the language had not applied to the 9/11 display, which had been approved for the new location.


By that time, however, some student groups said the new policy was an attack on free speech. [The Dallas Morning News, The Associated Press]


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