Roughly one week after the Inauguration Day walkout and protest at UT, numerous flyers appeared on kiosks and news boxes around campus targeting an individual’s presumed political affiliations.
According to the flyers, the individual goes by several pseudonyms, is a student on campus and has been active in campus protests since last semester. The majority of the flyers have since been removed from campus areas by the Dean of Students for violating the University’s rules on posting literature, according to Sara Kennedy, manager of strategic and executive communications for the Dean of Students.
“If you violate the rules for posting on campus, then the posting comes down,” Kennedy said. “Our staff monitors kiosks on campus and is responsible for removing the posters, so they absolutely were taken down.”
Cylindrical, wooden kiosks exist in various locations around campus and are monitored by the Dean of Students. Students are allowed to post freely on these kiosks as long as publication meets guidelines defined by the University. Flyers and posters must include the name of the organization or person posting the literature in order to be placed on campus kiosks, according to policy defined by the Dean of Students.
Additional parameters exist for the allowed size of flyers and posters as well as the length of time they are allowed to remain on campus. Additionally, literature on campus cannot include obscenity, defame or harass an individual or incite violations of law, among other rules, according to UT’s Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities.
“I have heard from students who were upset by the posters … and I became aware that students … assumed the poster was sanctioned, which isn’t true,” UT spokesperson J.B. Bird said. “I know from talking to students who are upset that it’s not widely known that the University enforces these kinds of things.”
There was no individual or group of individuals included on the flyer, and as a result, the Dean of Students immediately removed the flyers not for content, but because they violated University policy, Kennedy said.
“As long as it meets policies of the University, they can post,” Kennedy said. “Before getting to that level (of targeting an individual), it already violated our rules, so we took them down.”
The UT Police Department is currently looking into whether or not the flyers violated any laws, UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said.
UTPD and the Dean of Students often work together when it comes to disciplinary matters. In the case of flyers on campus, UTPD will only get involved if a law is broken.
“UTPD has been aware and as always, is looking into seeing if there is any violation,” Posey said. “UTPD enforces state law, so when someone has violated a UT rule, we hand it over to the Dean of Students. UTPD only intervenes when there is a law broken — we call that ‘staying in our lane.’ UTPD enforces laws, the Dean of Students enforces UT rules, but we work hand-in-hand with them all the time.”
The investigation into the flyers is ongoing, and it is unclear of how the flyers got on campus or if students were responsible for their postage. Neither department could comment on the specifics of the flyers or the disciplinary actions that could take place for the individual or individuals responsible.