“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
I hope that sounded familiar because it is the First Amendment in the United States Constitution.
Free speech sounds like a law that is pretty easy to understand; however, there have been over 300 cases involving the First Amendment and the Supreme Court since the First Amendment passed in 1791. This does not include all the cases handled in district courts the one happening at the university I proudly attend.
Someone asked me, “How does it feel to have everyone at UNA hate you?”
A fellow UNA student asked me this question last semester when he found out I worked for The Flor-Ala. I was shocked. He was referring to the censure placed on the university. He works for the university and knows a lot about the censure and saw firsthand how the faculty and staff were handling it.
I do not feel like the university hates me or anyone else at The Flor-Ala for that matter. Just like none of us at The Flor-Ala hate UNA. I love and support UNA and that is why I believe it is important for them to be called out.
Laura Quick is CEO at Good Grit magazine in Birmingham. She recently talked about being called out by people who are close to her.
“I hope you have some healthy and disruptive voices in your life, people who you allow to call you out. The best thing I’ve ever done is grant permission for people I love to tell me when they see me heading for a crash,” Quick said.
Last summer, The Flor-Ala heard a story going around UNA that students and members of the community had the right to know about. When UNA did not grant an editor permission to public and legal records, we suspected a fender bender but got the whole crash.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, news is defined as a report of recent events, previously unknown information or something having a specific influence or effect.
We can joke about fake news all we want, but when powerful leaders teach impressionable young adults to cover up relevant and important information because it makes them look bad, they are advocating for fake news.
When something happens that involves my school, I want to know about it and I think it is important for others to know as well. As student reporters, is that not our job? Is that not what our professors at this university are teaching?
I pay a lot of money to spend a lot of hours learning about fact checking and truth telling for someone at the same university to silence me.
I respect my peers in class and I respect my professors. I respect the leaders of this university and my school colors. Because of that love and respect, I will speak up to this university even if my voice shakes from fear.
Writer Maggie Kuhn once said, “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.”
This August I will graduate from UNA with a degree in Multimedia Journalism and Marketing and I will be sad to see my years at this university behind me. In fact, many of us at The Flor-Ala will be graduating this year. While some of you may be taking a sigh of relief, I hope that others continue to open your mind and speak up about what is important to you.
If you love your school, your professors and your college leaders, then have enough respect to be honest with them. Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes, UNA.