Guam – University of Guam Professor Peter Onedera thinks an order from UOG’s Attorney to remove political signs may be a violation of the students right to free speech.
Onedera has been organizing Chamorro language Senatorial forums for the past 12 years. The display of different types of political campaign materials has always a part of the events.
But Acting Associate Dean Troy McVey has directed him to remove political posters, banners and campaign materials from the lobby of the class lecture hall. He acted on advice from UOG’s Attorney that the posters could be in violation of the Mini Hatch Act.
The Mini-Hatch Act prohibits GovGuam employees from campaigning for political candidates at their place of work.
Onedera asks, “Why now? I’ve been holding these forms since 1998.”
He says, “I stage these forums for the purpose to use the Chamorro language by having our students formulate questions, translate questions, translate them and practice using them by asking questions to political candidates who are running for office as part of the forum it involves having posters being placed in the lobby of the lecture hall.”
“Any appearance of these posters,” says Onedera, “can only happen during the time of the forum and can not be up during the day as classes are on going in the lecture hall.”
But Onedera argues that the political materials on display are only used for display purposes and are solely confined to the inside lobby of the lecture hall. No candidate or political party was endorsed, he says.
Onedera also points out that some high school government classes have political signs and posters on display. Especially at schools that serve as polling stations, but no one is making an issue about them.
But even though he doesn’t like it, Onedera says he will comply with McVey’s wishes and removed all the political posters until the next forum.