By Nancy Armour |
Alabama will not punish students who boo President Donald Trump at Saturday’s game against LSU at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the university’s Student Government Association said an earlier message that threatened to revoke seating at future games for “organizations that engage in disruptive behavior” had been taken out of context.
“The SGA strongly affirms its belief in free speech and the rights of all students to express their opinions,” the statement said. “Today’s report erroneously assigned a political context to a message meant only to remind students about heightened security and the consequences of altercations or other behaviors unbecoming of a University of Alabama student.”
Trump is expected to attend the game, which pits No. 2 LSU against top-ranked Alabama. It will be the third weekend in a row that Trump has attended a sporting event. He was booed during Game 5 of the World Series, and heard a mix of boos and cheers at a UFC fight last weekend in New York.
The visit to Alabama was thought to be an ideal scenario for Trump, who is widely popular in the state. But when AL.com published a story about the message from the SGA’s vice president of student affairs, a student, it prompted outrage that Alabama would seek to silence students.
The message warned student organizations, which are assigned specific blocks of seats, that there would be heightened security for the game and asked that their members be in the stadium “no later than 12:30 p.m.” The game begins at 2:30 p.m. CT.
The message then went on to say “additional security will also be in the student section.”
“Any organizations that engage in disruptive behavior during the game will be removed from block seating instantly for the remainder of the season.”
While that was taken to mean protests directed at Trump, it referred to fights or arguments between student groups, an official with the SGA told USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly.
There are about 50 student organizations, mostly fraternities and sororities, that have seats in the block area.
This article was republished with permission from the original author and 2015 Ronald Reagan Media Award recipient, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today. Follow columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.