SMU reverses ruling on lawn displays

SMU won't move 9/11 flag display

DALLAS -- Southern Methodist University now says it won't move displays, including nearly 3,000 American flags to honor Sept. 11 victims, to another lawn on campus that students say has less foot traffic.

Displays were moved to MoMac Park from Dallas Hall Lawn last month due to a new policy that didn't want displays that are "triggering, harmful, or harassing" to some students.

After an open letter to SMU President R. Gerald Turner by the Young Americans for Freedom group and other student organizations, the school changed what it called "poor wording" in its policy, but stood by its decision.

"The previous site, a portion of the Dallas Hall lawn, is used frequently for outdoor class space, studying between classes... and a variety of university events throughout the year," the school tweeted at the time. "Creating the need for a different, yet still prominent, display area."

Gov. Greg Abbott appealed to President Ford this week to reverse the rules and put the 9/11 flags back to their "traditional place of honor."

On Wednesday the school said it had decided to keep lawn displays on Dallas Hall Lawn with an agreement that "provides dedicated spaces for lawn displays while also preserving open spaces for studying, classes, events and recreation."

One-day displays will be allowed by student organizations and university departments on the northern part of the lawn, the school says. Three-day displays will take place on the southern part of the lawn.

“I thank the students from across campus who came together in the spirit of mutual respect and civil discourse to achieve this outcome,” Turner said. “Throughout these discussions, students have expressed their commitment to freedom of expression – a value the University shares.”

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