Meet the Free Speech SWAT Team


It appears free speech needs a'watching up in Oxford.  The Daily Mississippian Online reported on October 13: The university has created a response team to help handle student protests and first amendment rights on campus.The Demonstration and Assembly Response Team is a faculty-led committee put into place after university staff needed help responding to and garnering support for demonstrations and assemblies on campus, according to Valeria Beasley Ross, associate dean of students and leader of DART.“The role of the Demonstration and Assembly Response Team is to support the opportunity for freedom of expression activities at the University of Mississippi,” Ross said.The team’s concept was developed in the fall 2015 and now has a total of 22 staff members from Ole Miss.Team members walk across campus throughout the day and search for any demonstrations or free speech activities taking place. A freedom of speech activity can be a rally, parade or any other type of assembly in which students are expressing their views. The faculty members can also help provide feedback and different perspectives for the demonstration’s ideas.“The DART members’ role is to introduce themselves to the lead coordinator of the demonstration, make clear the university’s expectations and to support the creation of a safe environment,” Ross said.College students have the freedom to be involved in campus demonstrations and other free-speech initiatives going on around campus.She believes for learning to take place, it is important for these activities to be done in a way allowing the Ole Miss mission to continue and support campus safety as well. DART strives to get students involved in things they’re passionate about while avoiding interrupting the learning environment.With today’s college campuses being the modern marketplace for exchanging ideas, teams similar to DART already exist on many other campuses under different names, according to Ross.“As a

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