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In order to document what is likely the University of Nebraska’s most widely discussed controversy of student speech in recent memory, The Daily Nebraskan has compiled this special issue in an attempt to create a time capsule of the actions, reactions and responses that have transpired in the five days since Nebraska football players Michael Rose-Ivey, DaiShon Neal and Mohamed Barry took a knee while the national anthem played before the Huskers’ most recent game against Northwestern on Sept. 24, 2016.

At its core, this controversy is a simple matter of freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful protest. Each of these freedoms, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, are freedoms The Daily Nebraskan firmly supports.

The Daily Nebraskan Editorial Board echoes the statements made by NU President Hank Bounds, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green and NU Board of Regents chairman Kent Schroeder, as well as the resolution put forth by the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska. Each of these campus influencers have eloquently expressed their support of not only the players’ freedom of expression and peaceful protest, but also the First Amendment rights of each University of Nebraska student, faculty and staff member. We are proud to be a part of a university that values the rights of its students.

The First Amendment is among the most crucial rights guaranteed to us in the United States Constitution. The ability to peacefully protest, as these players have done, is fundamentally important to a healthy and vibrant democracy. When issues arise within our country, it is irresponsible to curtail freedom of speech when it is exercised in a peaceful manner.

We also support the right of expression of those who disagree with the decision of the players to kneel. In fact, the members of this board have varying opinions on the action of kneeling during the anthem; however, we believe that disagreement should foster healthy debate, not seek to prevent it. These disagreements, as some — including campus and state leaders — have expressed, should not infringe on the rights of players to express themselves.

We do not endorse nor do we condemn the action of kneeling during the national anthem. Instead, we support the idea that the many sides of this debate each has the constitutional right to voice its opinion through non-violent means as the three Nebraska players have demonstrated.

There is nothing more important in a democracy than the free exchange of ideas. The Daily Nebraskan Editorial Board applauds the university for its role in preserving this exchange and is proud to be a part of this important dialogue.