There’s a battle brewing in Texas over a 9/11 memorial display at SMU.

Last week Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appealed to Southern Methodist University to reverse a new policy decision that is forcing a change in location on campus for the annual 9/11 memorial display of American flags by a student group.

The tribute of nearly 3,000 small flags “that honor the lives lost on that terrible day” are traditionally displayed on SMU’s Dallas Hall lawn, according to the campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, which sponsors the memorial.

Last month, SMU decided to prohibit displays on that prime site, saying the university “respects the right of all members of the community to avoid messages that are triggering, harmful, or harassing.”


Many students were skeptical of that reasoning and winced at the headlines that followed, such as: “9/11 memorial flags may be too much for some students, must be moved, SMU says.”

Some suspected something else was spurring the policy change. The university’s newspaper noted that displays on the Dallas Hall lawn “met with little resistance” until a pro life group, Mustangs for Life, began putting up a memorial of crosses, each representing “a life lost to abortion.”

Although the university offered an alternative campus location for the 9/11 memorial, the new policy language inspired a battle over freedom of expression.

Student groups across the ideological spectrum joined in decrying the new policy.

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