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Free Speech Redux: Bulletin Board in Hagg-Sauer Speaks for All

Kim Powell | Staff Writer | 03/30/2011

Faculty and students are expressing their opinions on President Hanson’s recalibration plan on a bulletin board placed in Hagg-Sauer Hall.

“If students get real education, they might rise above their due stations; so call in Dick Hanson (or maybe Chuck Manson) to give us some ‘recalibration!’” stated a post on the bulletin board by Brian Donovan, an English professor.

Donovan is responsible for creating this bulletin board of free speech after a previous one was believed to be removed by the Hobson Memorial Union (HMU) Information Desk, but they denied knowing about the board all together.

“Hobson [Memorial] Union got wind of it and didn’t like that, so they sent people to tear the material down,” said Donovan. “Since it’s HMU’s board, it occurred to me to bring a different board in so that the process could continue. I didn’t like to see it end like that.”

According to Donovan, he did not create the original board, which was located on the wall to the right of the reception office in Hagg-Sauer Hall, and that there was no warning of it being torn down.

“We just came in one day and all of the stuff was gone,” said Donovan. “There was a sign posted on the bulletin board saying, ‘This is one of our boards. What you have been doing is not in compliance with our policy about bulletin boards and we’ve been receiving complaints about this.’”

The policy, which is posted on the BSU website under Student Handbook, states that posters and notices for academic buildings must be approved by the HMU Information Desk. If they have not been approved, they will be removed.

“They do have a policy with their bulletin boards, so there is some legitimacy in that,” said Donovan. “But it came off as ugly — especially since there was no warning or opportunity to preserve the expression that already got up on that bulletin board. That’s simply lost.”

Donovan was determined to keep the bulletin board running so that teachers and students could have a place to express their views, so he found another board.

“This board normally belongs to HMU. It’s no charge for faculty to rent it out, so I just did that,” said Donovan. Since Donovan rented the board, all content placed upon it is therefore approved and not at risk of being torn down.

Upon receiving the new board, which is on wheels, Donovan placed it near the old board, in hopes of inspiring some of the same voices that were removed.

Donovan said he has not received any word from administration or HMU about the content of the bulletin board. Both Mary Tosch, Interim Director of the HMU, and Hanson said they were unaware of this bulletin board.

“It’s impossible to be knowledgeable about every transaction that occurs in the Union (over 76,000 sq. ft.), each day,” said Tosch.

Donovan proudly wrote his name on the board in case there were any questions, and several people have thanked him.

“There is communication going on,” said Donovan of the postings on the new board. “I have no assurance that the administration is paying any attention whatsoever, but then they don’t seem to be paying much attention to the faculties views in any case in this recalibration process.”

Although Donovan boldly speaks out on the board, most others post anonymously.
“I encouraged civility and did not really encourage anonymity,” said Donovan. “Since not all faculty members [and students] are so secure as I am, some feel a need for anonymity and I can respect that.”

The board has everything from “Save BSU Track” to “Got Humanities?” and even a post in a different language. Hanson is compared to Charles Manson and Egypt’s Gaddafi, as BSU is called, “Little Egypt.”

Thomas Jefferson is quoted on his famous views of the importance of education and multiple Star Tribune articles about the statewide budget crisis are highlighted.
Donovan stresses that being active in the First Amendment is an important thing for faculty and students, and that it’s not just venting; it’s communication.

Although Hanson is the target of criticism on this board, he says he does not plan to say or do anything about it.

Given the headline, “Cuts had to Happen. Lies Didn’t,” Donovan states that, “…given the dismal budget situation (Hanson) walked in on, he had the option of leading the institution through a very painful process with honor, openness, honesty and integrity. HE DID NOT EXERCISE THAT OPTION.”

“I think,” said Donovan, “we’re dealing with extremely destructive and irresponsible individuals.”