After entrepreneurship students designed and advertised Marshall Mob shirts, principal Jeff Litz recalled them mid-September, claiming they were inappropriate.
Though I agree the slogan “Hunting Szn” could come off as insensitive and potentially allude to school shootings, the shirts should not have made it as far in the process as they did.
The fact that administration recalled the shirts so late in the process is what is most confusing.
Entrepreneurship class replaced the slogan with the griffin mascot and the years “19-20” underneath.
School shootings may be a sensitive topic, but censoring any language just because individuals might misinterpret it as a reference to the topic of school shootings is unreasonable.
The same applies to finger-gun gestures, which have been the topic of several headlines, including the Pennsylvania superior court case decision to list finger-gun gestures as a criminal offense.
For years, Marshall has had an entertaining rivalry with Madison during basketball season.
According to entrepreneurship student and senior Gillian Dumont, the slogan “Hunting Szn” intended to poke fun at the competition’s mascot, the Warhawks.
The ban of the shirt sales also conflicts with the Student Rights & Responsibilities (SR&R) policy stating that “students have the right to express themselves through speech, assembly, distributing literature, and other ways. […] High school students should submit materials they want to display or distribute to the student government for review.”
Additionally, the SR&R handbook says “students are expected to communicate their opinions in ways that do not interfere with the rights of others, cause disruption or harm, damage another’s reputation, or break the law.”
Therefore, unless members of the Marshall community explicitly expressed they felt personally harmed by the slogan, as the SR&R’s language dictates, administration should not have recalled the shirts.
Today’s hypersensitive culture has resulted in a facade of free expression as schools nationwide ban simple actions or words, just because people might interpret them incorrectly.
Instead of banning a harmless slogan, Marshall should transition their focus on addressing the issue of school shootings by continuing to authorize security improvements and provide the appropriate support and mental health assistance, which, in reality, will benefit the entire community.