Standing Rock

Shabana Ram
November 3rd, 2016

Money pours in for protest, but will it last?

In Cannon Ball, North Dakota, the Dakota Access Pipeline threatens the traditional and treaty-guaranteed Great Sioux Nation territory. “The Pipeline violates the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and 1851 signed by the United States, as well as recent United States environmental regulations.” The potentially 1,200-mile pipeline presents the same environmental and human dangers as the Keystone XL pipeline. This would transport hydraulically fractured crude oil from the Bakken Oil Fields in North Dakota to connect with existing pipelines in Illinois. The pipeline is extremely dangerous to the native land and it runs through more than once in some states.

The First Amendment states our freedom of speech, freedom of petition, freedom to assembly, freedom to religion, and freedom of press. The Standing Rock committee is a group of indigenous scholars and activists, and settler/ PoC supporters. They have the right to petition against the pipeline, the right to assemble; and/or collectively express, promote, pursue, and defend their ideas. The Standing Rock committee has every right to say that they want to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from drilling into sacred land.

This is important because our environment is being destroyed from fracking and these energy companies can’t see the negative outcomes: the air pollution from trucks, the exposure from  toxic chemicals, contamination of groundwater, etc. and more. Our environment needs saving, not destroying.

Should any limits be placed on the freedom of expression of professors of elective courses?

“The university is a place where all ideas are worthy of exploration.”  College students should be more mature to handle harsh comments or a heated debate in class. Students have the right to express themselves. However, supporters of the student codes of conduct explain “freedom of expression is no more sacred than freedom from intolerance or bigotry.”

Professors and students know how cruel the world can be and how disgraceful others are to each other. But, we are students who have the knowledge to know what is better and to have common sense about what they say and can or can’t do. Just because there are codes that regulate a professor and a student, does not mean that everyone follows them. Our First Amendment right is for freedom of speech, the right to say things in a time, place, and manner.

I understand the Student Codes of Conduct, to protect discrimination from other students and teachers. Students can be immature and arrogant about others depending on how you are raised, which can also follow up on professors. But, for professors to have a mature conversation, or discussion, within class about the government, or politics, then there should not be limits regarding freedom of expression. It would be your opinion on how you feel, on how you can make a difference on what you say. College is about the adult world, to know what you can say, when and where.


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