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The Indiana Daily Student

campus administration

Kinsey student says IU administrator infringed on free speech rights at demonstration

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A Friends of Kinsey member said an IU administrator infringed on free speech rights by demanding the group move their table from Sample Gates. 

Following the IU Board of Trustees’ decision to table discussions Nov. 10 to form a separate nonprofit to manage some of the institute’s functions, Kinsey students formed Friends of Kinsey, an organization advocating against the proposed separation of the institute from the university. Over the past two weeks, as the fate of the institute remains uncertain, members have demonstrated in front of Sample Gates handing out flyers, candy and condoms. 

On Feb. 13, Zoe Moscovici, a doctoral student and member of Friends of Kinsey, demonstrated in front of Sample Gates, when she was approached by Mary Waggoner, who identified herself as a member of IU administration. Waggoner told Moscovici she was not permitted to demonstrate at that location.  

Moscovici drafted a written statement detailing the interaction with Waggoner, which was sent to Kinsey Institute Executive Director Justin Garcia. 

According to the statement, Waggoner, who is the IU Office of Student Life Services Assistant for Space Reservations, told Moscovici she was not allowed to be at Sample Gates without IU approval. Moscovici responded that she was not in charge of the demonstration, but she believed Friends of Kinsey had the proper permission. Waggoner replied that she oversaw space reservation, and she had not approved a demonstration at Sample Gates.  

Waggoner also said, according to the statement, that Friends of Kinsey needed to be an approved student organization with permission to demonstrate there and that tabling is never permitted for Sample Gates. Waggoner did not say where these rules were posted. 

Moscovici said Waggoner demanded she move the table immediately. However, Moscovici had not set up the table, and she said she was watching other people’s possessions, so she told Waggoner that she did not want to move it. At this point, Waggoner grabbed materials from the table and began packing them up herself. 

“The main tone I was getting was condescending,” Moscovici said. 

Meanwhile, a man accompanying Waggoner began filming the incident on his phone, according to Moscovici’s statement. He did not identify himself to Moscovici. 

Moscovici said she called Melissa Blundell, a Kinsey Institute doctoral student and Friends of Kinsey member, who had coordinated the tabling effort and was at the demonstration but left prior to Waggoner’s arrival. According to the statement, Waggoner asked to speak to Blundell on the phone, but Moscovici refused. Blundell said she could return to campus in 20 minutes to speak to Waggoner, but Waggoner said she had a meeting in 20 minutes and Moscovici would have to move immediately.  

“Through the phone, I could hear Mary Waggoner being very aggressive and very angry,” Blundell said. 

Moscovici said she offered to compromise by temporarily stopping the demonstration, but Waggoner called IUPD to report that Moscovici had resisted her demands and would likely return to Sample Gates even if she moved. 

Moscovici agreed to move the table across Indiana Avenue in an attempt to “de-escalate the situation,” according to the statement. Waggoner and the man helped her carry the materials across the street.  

After moving the table across the street, Moscovici said Waggoner’s attitude changed, and she stopped yelling. She said Waggoner told her it was just the rules and had nothing to do with the topic of the demonstration.  

Waggoner and the man then left together, Moscovici said. Blundell and Moscovici said there have been no further incidents with Waggoner or IU administration, and Friends of Kinsey have continued to table at that location. 

Jessica Hille, assistant director for education at the Kinsey Institute, learned about the incident from Cynthia Graham, Moscovici’s direct supervisor.  

After reviewing the IU Office of Student Life’s page about planning an event, Blundell, Moscovici and Hille do not believe the demonstration violated the rules. Hille said that the regulations are somewhat unclear. 

The page states that registered student organizations may request indoor and outdoor campus spaces, and that student groups must be registered on beINvolved. Friends of Kinsey is not registered on beINvolved. 

The Office of Student Life requires all events to submit the “Space Reservation Request Form.” Small events and meetings, which are events with 1-49 attendees, are supposed to request a space 10 business days in advance. They are not, however, required to submit a request to the University Event Registration committee. 

Blundell said Friends of Kinsey did not fill out the Space Reservation Request Form. However, Blundell, Moscovici and Hille point to a different section titled “Demonstrations and counterdemonstrations,” which they say implies a reservation is not necessary.  

While not required, students are encouraged to reserve appropriate space and seek event approval through the UERC process to help ensure public health, and to gain access to helpful infrastructure such as stages and sound equipment,” the page reads. 

The page does not outline procedures for unofficial student organizations. 

The page also specifically mentions Sample Gates as a location available for expressive activity. There is no mention of tabling being prohibited at Sample Gates — tabling is referenced as an example of a “small event.” 

Moscovici said Waggoner’s behavior was unacceptable, regardless of the policies. 

“I was maybe expecting some locals or students who had heard misinformation arguing with me or something, but I was not expecting a professional at IU to do that,” Moscovici said. 

In her statement, Moscovici also said she believes Waggoner infringed on her free speech rights as a student at IU. 

“It is my hope that, in the future, I and other students at IU will be able to voice our opinions and advocate for important causes on campus without fear of retaliation,” the statement read. 

Hille said although Kinsey Institute students have been brave acting on behalf of the institute, they shouldn’t have to face this kind of opposition. 

“Our grad students have been wonderful and incredibly brave in light of what’s been going on and the sort of opposition that Kinsey’s been facing,” Hille said. “And from a policy standpoint, I’m concerned that something like this would have a chilling effect on students’ ability to exercise their rights to free speech on campus.” 

Waggoner did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. 

“The encounter on February 13 was the result of a miscommunication regarding tabling policies in certain areas on campus,” an IU spokesperson said in an email. “IU encourages the civil and free exchange of ideas. Our freedom of speech policy is available at freespeech.iu.edu.” 

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