What’s the word, WT? The First Amendment

Jadeyn Arthur, Junior Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Carolyn Benitez
David Reyes, WTAMU Sophomore

Carolyn Benitez
Lauren Murphy, WTAMU Sophomore

Carolyn Benitez
Tyler Melville, Junior Engineering major

College and high school students have the added pressure of being the “future world leaders”. With this title comes a lot of responsibility. It’s important to know what rights we have and the extent of those rights. We went on the streets to find out what West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) students really know about the First amendment and how they express their rights.

Tyler Melville, a junior engineering technology major has a clear understanding of the first amendment.

“It is the right to speak freely, freedom of the press, religious freedom, and the right to assemble peacefully.”

Melville expresses that he is worried that the younger demographic may not be as educated on their rights and can easily be misinformed or taken advantage of in order to silence their opinions.

“It is necessary for every U.S. citizen to know their rights because lack of knowledge or ignorance of these can result in the infringement of the person’s rights by authorities. Authorities are known to challenge your knowledge of the law by threatening legal action when they have no grounds to do so.”

David Reyes, sophomore sports and exercise science major agrees with Melville and encourages students to read up on their rights and keep an open mind for others.

I think it is extremely important for people to know the extent of your rights so that they can defend themselves or their beliefs. There are many different views on many different subjects and everybody is going to have an opinion one way or another.”

As our world becomes more connected through technology, there is a common trend of sharing thoughts on blogs and social media. Lauren Murphy, a sophomore animal science major, values the freedoms of social media and sees it as a great tool to hear other people’s outlooks.

“I think it’s beneficial because it allows people to see post from others with same principles and views or even those with the opposite views of themselves. I think it shows expression of different opinions and that is what America is built on. A mixing pot of opinions.”

WTAMU also recognizes their student’s rights to freedom of speech. On page 5 in the student Code of Life it states that “there shall be no University rule or administrative procedure that in any way abridges the rights of freedom of speech, press, expression, petition and peaceful assembly.”

WTAMU allows community members and organizations to speak freely on campus. This recognizes the not only the campus community’s right to free speech but their right to hear diverse subjects.  Murphy, has seen the positive use of the first amendment on our very own campus.

I love seeing different groups and opinions all gathered on campus. Specifically, I remember a really cool campaign around the JBK (Jack B. Kelley Student Center) where there were statues of trash dressed as people urging students to cut down on their waste. Something you don’t always remember everyday can spark action if seen around campus.”

Like Murphy, Reyes is appreciative that our campus is willing to accommodate the organizations that are wanting to peacefully assemble and be heard.

Yes, and I think it’s a great idea for the campus to have a place that us students can exercise our rights if we feel the need too. To me, I feel this gives the students a sense of relief in the fact that WT wants to give the student’s that opportunity to have their voice heard. I think many organizations utilize their rights to have their voices heard by their fellow students.”

Whether you are expressing rights in peaceful assembly, in articles, through your religion, or online it is important to fully understand your rights and protections. We are promised these rights under the constitution and it is fair and just for us to use them. Murphy certainly appreciates her rights and utilizes them whenever she has the chance.

I use my freedom of speech every day when sharing thoughts and opinions with friends, peers, and teachers. I can’t imagine not being able to express myself through speech especially if I was doing something as important as a protest. Everyone has the right to freedom of speech, assembly, press, and religion. We don’t all have to agree with everyone but we should never silence those who think or speech differently. It’s no one’s right to take away the rights of others.”