FGCU President addresses campus preacher

Eagle+News+photo+by+Julia+Bonavita

Eagle News photo by Julia Bonavita

James Curtis, Staff Writer

Many students on campus have experienced walking by the “preachers” that come to campus regularly. Safe to say, students are not huge fans of these people that come to FGCU.

“I don’t think he should be allowed on campus,” Freshman Evan Hoke said. “There’s no real reason for him to be there and he’s more of a disruption than anything else. I’m not sure why the school allows it to be honest.”

However, it isn’t as easy as just telling these individuals to leave. President Martin explained why the university is unable to take real action against these people in an email to the university titled “Preachers on campus.”

“We are an open, public campus,” President Martin said in the email. “Thus, they can exercise their right of free speech here. They are limited to where and when they can hold forth, and they cannot disrupt normal operations or harass or target individuals.”

“A man just voicing his opinion to get money out of FGCU and college students,” Junior Chris Forestal said.

According to FGCU spokesperson Pamela McCabe, FGCU Regulation 9.004 – Public Expression and Assembly establishes what actions are considered to be a disruption of normal operations on campus by the university. Some of these situations can affect the ability of peoples’ public expression like criminal acts, actions in regard to property and interfering with classes or other educational activities, just to name a few.

In his email, President Martin encouraged students to report any instances of uninvited assault or confrontation to reach out and report the incident to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, Multicultural and Leadership Development Center, FGCU Safe Zone and Counseling and Psychological Services.

McCabe also discussed the university’s stance and perspective on reporting these behaviors and how the process works for students and employees.

“FGCU encourages students and employees who experience or witness any behaviors that are harassing, intimidating, threatening or cause a substantial disruption of campus to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance and the University Police Department,” McCabe said. “The offices will review complaints to determine if there was a violation of law or campus regulations or policies, and action will be taken as appropriate. Resources, counseling opportunities and other forms of support are available to students and employees through Counseling and Psychological Services, Multicultural and Leadership Development Center and FGCU Safe Zone.”

President Martin also made it clear that those people do not represent the university in any way. Additionally, he had one more thing to say to close out the email based on freedom of speech and expression.

“We respect everyone’s right to free expression, even when we disagree or find that expression offensive,” President Martin said. “But just as everyone has the right to speak out, everyone has the right to ignore.”