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Decision to ban speech on Auraria seems ill-conceived

Illustration// Madalyn Drewno

STUDENTS FACE SILENCE

In an effort to prevent offense on one of Colorado’s most diverse campuses, Auraria has banned speech in all its forms.

It has been difficult to gauge how students feel about the new policy in the weeks since its enactment because the Sentry can’t officially talk to them. Efforts to lure people off campus for a chat with desperate hand gesticulations have failed, so our staff has been unable to report on how the ban on verbal conversations, phones, laptops, books, newspapers, magazines, writing utensils, and CU Denver logos have affected the student body.

The Sentry, however, strongly disapproves. We’ve been forced to distribute our weekly publication across CU Boulder’s campus instead of our own, and when their students respond to articles like, “Best CU Denver bathrooms to cry in” by calling us irrelevant, it truly dampens staff morale.

More annoying is how unevenly applied the policy has been. The Tivoli Starbucks still has its menu board up so patrons can point to a drink from 10 feet away and hope the barista understands their meaning; but the CU Denver lettering facing Speer Boulevard has been stripped off the North Classroom facade. The official statement about this loss of school branding claims that “the word ‘university’ is elitist and offends people attending state and community colleges.” However, credible rumors claim the decision was allegedly made to mitigate the costs of replacing light bulbs that are often left burned out for months.

Even on Auraria’s busiest days, the campus is largely quiet with the exception of the Crazy Evangelical Guy stationed on the Tivoli Quad. Since there is no way to punish a man who is not affiliated with CU Denver, he continues to demean women and inflict hate speech upon students of color with impressive vocal projection, but he appears to have been struck a certain kind of lethargy unique to people who can no longer fulfill their life purpose of getting a rise out of vulnerable, easily offended Millennials. Where will he go from here?

A mass email sent out by the CU Denver Board of Regents addressed concerns that students are probably having, though those concerns can’t be gauged in any official capacity. “The new policy had a rocky start, but we’re pleased to announce that the amount of students saying ‘I’m offended’ on campus has dropped to a record zero percent,” the email said. “We’re also proud of how well our professors and instructors have begun teaching exclusively with shapes, colors, and pre-approved photos. We wish for them to know here that they will still be evaluated for how significantly they improved students’ verbal and written skills with end-of-semester FCQs.”

The amount of students crowding around administrative buildings with blank poster boards has more than doubled since the email was sent. It is the Sentry’s belief that the students are exercising their right to protest in a way that won’t see them expelled from Auraria’s universities and colleges, but maybe they just don’t know how else to schedule an advising appointment anymore. One student wielded a sign that might have been a page of 100 percent redacted text or simply a trendy, black and white striped piece of scrapbook paper—there really is no way to know.

Though CU Denver’s websites have been wiped clean of all their information, and therefore ways to contact the administration from off campus with complaints, the email tried to maintain a connection with students. “We care about you,” the email said. “We want you to know we’re hearing your voices now as much as we ever have.”

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