By Peggy Hogan-Rao, News Editor
At St. John Fisher College, it is encouraged that one has the right to protest, especially by the faculty. Senior Shannon DeHoff received strong support over her distribution of 250 flyers around campus with a message against President-elect Donald Trump.
On Wednesday Nov. 9, the day after the election, DeHoff was taken out of class and brought to security not long after she finished distributing the flyers around campus. Dr. Barbara Lowe, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, reached out to support DeHoff as soon as she was taken out of class.
“I heard from Shannon that Security was waiting outside her classroom, and she was going directly over there,” Lowe said. “I went directly over there when I heard that just to give her support.” Along with Dr. Lowe, DeHoff lists other faculty who stood beside her in support: Dr. Jill Swiencicki, Dr. Robert Ruehl, Dr. Lisa Cunningham, and Dr. James Bowman.
Dehoff will not be having a conduct hearing because of the support from Office of Campus Life and Office of Residential Life. DeHoff said “The Office of Campus Life and Res Life have all gotten in contact with me in past day to express their support for what I’m doing, just that it has to be done through the appropriate channels.”
The flyers were seen on the floors of corridors near the library and in the academic buildings. Some were even taped on walls near the library.
DeHoff had a very clear message she wanted to get across to the Fisher community when distributing these flyers. She explained that “We were trying to get people, whether they voted for Hillary Clinton or Gary Johnson or Donald Trump or anyone else, to think about what it means to vote for somebody who is undeniably racist and sexist and bigoted.”
Because of complaints from faculty about how these flyers could be a safety hazard, Safety and Security had to take them all down. Dr. Rick DeJesus-Rueff, Vice president of Student Affairs and Diversity Initiatives, said “In this particular situation, the flyers were scattered on the floor. That presented a safety hazard. If someone had slipped on the papers that were on the floor, they would’ve cracked their skull when hitting the floor of the building.”
Another reason why the flyers had to be taken down was because they did not comply with the Campus Life posting policies. All postings for posters or flyers need to be approved through Office of Campus Life, and DeJesus-Rueff said that “we ask that students comply with the policy so students put them up in the appropriate places and in ways that make sense and get the word out.”
The issue here was not about how the message on the flyers were offensive, for that was not the reason they were taken down. Rick-DeJesus does not find the message to be offensive. He said, “There was no argument or effort to censor or otherwise address the content of the flyer.”
“If you restrict speech or if you restrict opportunity to engage in speech or even dialogue, then you restrict the ability of people to learn.”
– Dr. Rick DeJesus-Rueff, Vice president of Student Affairs and Diversity Initiatives
DeJesus-Rueff noticed that the message was trying to make people think and reflect. He said “It was raising a challenging question, and a challenging consideration.”
DeHoff did not intend to offend anyone when she was distributing these flyers around campus.
Senior Chandler Kozyra found these flyers to be offensive. He said, “You shouldn’t have to feel like you are something that you’re not, like a racist or a bigot because you chose to support them (Trump) over someone else.”
Yes, St. John Fisher College is a private institution, but the College encourages students to express their opinions in the form of protest. DeJesus-Rueff feels that right to protest in a college setting is important.
“If you restrict speech or if you restrict opportunity to engage in speech or even dialogue, then you restrict the ability of people to learn,” he said.
DeHoff will find other ways to convey her message and to protest, but this time through the Diversity office. She said “The entire Diversity Coalition is hosting a Coalition Tuesday night at 7 p.m. to try to discuss how to move forward with these things to make sure everyone’s voice is being heard. We’re trying to make it more of a conversation, than anyone being attacked.”