A recent announcement that the university was closing the loophole which allowed white supremacist Richard Spencer to speak inside the MSC left many students relieved. Despite the tightening of the rules regarding speakers at A&M, not all famous figures for hate speech will be affected by the changes. Most notably, the specifics of the rule will not bar Brother Jed from conducting JedFest since his iconic performance occurs outdoors.
Despite his inflammatory speeches, each year students await Brother Jed’s stop at Texas A&M on his national tour, as his ability to make students laugh and accept sexist remarks have led to the annually anticipated establishment of JedFest. Unfortunately, under the new rule, speakers like Mr. Spencer who lack the community’s acceptance of hateful rhetoric resort to hosting their events within university facilities. These speakers are prevented from doing so unless they are invited by a legitimate student organization, academic unit, or member of the university system that must obtain university approval for the event.
Students find that condemning people to Hell for their beliefs are often most enjoyable in the large crowds of JedFest. “I am absolutely in love with the forward thinking displayed by the university,” said Marco Shapiro, a junior economics major. “The rule prevents people who lack the comedic genius and cult following of Brother Jed from coming. It’s just not okay when other speakers come and broadcast hateful rhetoric.”
The university broadcasted the policy update through local media outlets. “When Richard Spencer visited campus we actually saw students having difficult conversations about freedom of speech and racism,” said Amy Smith, university spokeswoman. “These conversations are not something we want people to associate with Texas A&M University. Students old enough to vote and serve in the military should be provided a safe space from hurtful words and difficult conversations.”
Many Aggies felt the university kept their best interest in mind when updating the policy. “I, for one, support the rule; we can all come together and laugh at Brother Jed. JedFest is one of those small parts of Aggieland tradition you can look forward to every year,” said junior nuclear engineering major James Belladonte. “Richard Spencer, and potential future speakers, who say such bigoted and hateful things aren’t welcome on our campus. Nobody is going to tolerate that language here—hate isn’t an Aggie value.”
Other students are not so comfortable with the change in policy. “When it comes to hate speech, either none of it’s okay, or all of it’s okay,” said Joji Miller. “So congrats on restricting free speech! I guess it’s funny when Brother Jed comes, but when another guy shows up and says the same thing it’s the end of the world.”
At the time of publication, support for the rule change signaled that students were more comfortable watching the LGBTQ community being publicly berated than being challenged on the topic of racism or the complexities of hate speech.
—Netflix and Drill