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The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

[FREE SPIRIT] Diving deep into the right to assemble

POWER+WITH+PARAMETERS.+Students+should+exercise+their+right+to+assemble+while+understanding+the+boundaries+of+what+is+protected+by+the+Constitution.+
POWER WITH PARAMETERS. Students should exercise their right to assemble while understanding the boundaries of what is protected by the Constitution.

At the heart of recent college protests sparked by the Israel-Hamas conflict lies the First Amendment. While a certain moral duty drives protesters to push for change, the amendment’s fourth freedom, the right of the people peaceably to assemble, makes this advocacy possible.

The right to assemble, alongside the freedom of speech, has paved a powerful platform for action. However, it’s equally important to understand the limitations that ensure protests are carried out peacefully, so heavily emphasized by the First Amendment.

The right to speech and assembly are legally granted under the government regardless of content. One notable exception is hate speech, which is not protected if it incites violent threats toward a person or group. Furthermore, private institutions can monitor the expression of First Amendment freedoms on campus.

Now more than ever, it’s important for students to understand their school’s policy on protest. For example, many schools have free speech zones that provide designated areas and hours where students can congregate. Others are committed to the same law as public universities. According to the Freedom Forum, private institutions that declare freedom of expression are bound to their commitment.

U.S. colleges have recently been under fire for their response to the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel. Some institutions, such as Stanford University and Northwestern University, have restrained themselves from making any statements. On the other hand, schools such as the University of Notre Dame and Vanderbilt have made their support for Israel clear. At Harvard, a private university, students who signed a petition deeming Israel solely responsible for ongoing violence were doxxed, leading many to withdraw their signatures.

A combination of heightened emotion and disagreement with various universities’ statements has led to anger on both sides. Naturally, many students across the nation have expressed their concerns through protest.

Passionate students, regardless of their stance on the conflict, should use their rights to initiate change. However, it’s important to understand protesting rights specific to various institutions and know the boundaries of what’s legally promised by the Constitution.

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Orion Kim, co-Editor in Chief
My name is Orion Kim (he/him) and I’m the co-Editor in Chief of The Rubicon. At school, I’m captain of the soccer team and a member of the Asian Student Alliance. I also love to play the piano, watch movies, and eat good food. I can be reached at [email protected].

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