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Student academic freedom vs. Rumrunners' sign

Student academic freedom vs. Rumrunners' sign

Student academic freedom vs. Rumrunners' sign

For well more than 100 years, the American Association of University Professors has defined concepts of academic freedom for faculty and students in institutions of higher learning. These very same principles also represent the single best statement of student rights.
Students have the right to protest, intellectually debate, express their views, seek redress and request hearings regarding social and human violations perpetrated against their peer group. They have the right to determine what “they” believe are the proper solutions without fear of sanctions unless their manner of expression substantially impairs the rights of others.
The Rumrunners debacle comes down to students’ basic human rights vs. racial acceptance.
There were two Plantation Room signs: One that was on the outside and the second on the inside. 
They aren’t identical signs at all.
Look at the two photographs (above.) The dark grayish exterior sign does in fact display the Georgia state flag — not the current state flag, but the old controversial state flag. Now look at the inside sign, it has a white background and it displays the Rebel or Confederate Stars and Bars Flag. Both have crossed swords and both have cannons.  Someone knew the significance of choosing these two specific sets of flags.
If you recall, GSU’s Mock Mediation Club was to hold a two-day meeting to debate this social issue. It was cancelled. Why? Because all students who submitted questions or comments regarding the signage had the very same opinion. All students expressed the very same opinion: The Plantation Room signs were offensive and just simply wrong for the university as a whole. Not one single person desired to defend these two racially offensive signs.
Suddenly, once Councilman Will Britt was made aware of the “unanimous” decision by the students — a miracle happened! General Manager Deven Bradford changed his mind about his “It’s been my sign for10-years. It’s not changing”. Councilman Britt easily was able to get Rumrunners owner James Stafford on the phone and just as quickly decided to get rid of the signs. The Statesboro Herald was unable to get hold of Mr. Stafford for comment but Councilman Britt had no trouble at all. Interesting! Is the “white’s only sign” inside the Plantation Room — with the Rebel Flags — permanently removed? 
Now the students have to further decide to “spend or not to spend” their money at such a racially divided establishment. That is the real issue. 
Do you boycott Rumrunners permanently? Will Manager Deven Bradford come up with yet another creative and what I believe are a racially charged set of procedures to dissuade blacks and minorities to attend Mr. Stafford’s establishments? Can he change his behavior overnight? Lots of questions with very few answers.
Time will tell.
Joe Green

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