The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Constitutional law professor breaks down chancellor’s response to protest

‘Both sides recognize that there’s no reason for this to be uncivil’
Photo by Toby Mohr
A group of students held a pro-Palestine protest on campus Friday.

UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt released a statement following Friday’s pro-Palestine student protest, saying the university will continue to “focus on encouraging civil dialogue’ on campus.

“UW-Eau Claire has always embraced the First Amendment rights of students, faculty, staff and the public to gather peacefully and protest on our campus. We continue to focus on encouraging civil dialogue, and the group of students and supporters who gathered on campus today demonstrated they understand their rights and responsibilities and what it takes to engage in the peaceful exchange of ideas.” – Chancellor James Schmidt.

Adam Kunz, a UW-Eau Claire constitutional law professor with a teaching interest in civil discourse, said the student protest falls under the protections of the First Amendment Schmidt mentions.

Adam Kunz is a constitutional law professor in the UW-Eau Claire political science department. (Photo from UWEC Photography)

“Colleges and universities are open forums,” Kunz said. “This is a place where ideas are welcomed and students are allowed to speak up. That includes by sending statements like the one they sent Wednesday, and engaging in protests on the quad.”

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But Kunz said the university has the ability to put limitations on demonstrations, including the administrative code that prohibits encampments.

“At the same time the university has a mission that it has to fulfill, which is educating students,” Kunz said. “So anything that materially or substantially interferes with that mission is something the university has an interest in protecting.”

Kunz said the student protest and the chancellor’s response shows both groups are open to more discussion.

“I think what Chancellor Schmidt’s tone is indicating and I think the students’ tone is indicating is that both sides recognize that there’s no reason for this to be uncivil,” he said. “There is every reason for us to have a dialogue.”

Kunz also said the protesters have expressed their views in a positive way.

“I have to commend the students who are doing the activism on this campus. I think they’re doing it in the right way, and they’re engaging in the kind of speech that I think is admirable. What they’ve done this week is a model of what other campuses should be following.”

Kunz said the chancellor’s statement acknowledges the students’ right to protest.

“They’ve made it very clear what they are wanting and they are expressing to the university a desire to dialogue. I think the chancellor’s response is an acknowledgement of the students commending them for speaking up and I read it as an invitation to continue that dialogue.”

This is a developing story, stay with The Spectator for updates.

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    Trudy GrillMay 3, 2024 at 9:37 pm

    I was proud of Wis. Students during their protest. They acted like responsible adults. Even though I understand their protesting I am against their support of Palestinians. My question would be to them their thoughts on the slaughter of Israel’s citizens which started this war ? It hasn’t been mentioned. Or their peers in other campuses demonstrating their hate for jews and destruction of property? To be honest it brought my thoughts back to Hitler and his properganda. Another question Israel is our allie. As with our other Allies are we to support the other side during Wars because people die? Look at 911 Israel supported us amongst other countries. I suggest students take a hard look at how they’ve been targets from terriorists and their citizens have died from bombings etc. Israel supported us in Afghanistan in dismantling the Taliban. Their loyalty is never ending with the United States.