FIRST vs Free Speech

Flash back to March 3, 2016. My team (which will remain anonymous) was participating in the San Diego regional for FIRST Stronghold. All was well until a FIRST Volunteer pulled me aside while I was in the pits. He took issue with the political statement my clothing made and didn’t let me back inside the pits until I changed. For reference, this is what I had on.

He told me he would’ve “let it slide” if it were any old other pair, but not with THAT person on them. He was Hispanic as well, I’m just including that because it’s relevant information and he might have been discriminatory towards me because of that (I was wearing a button that said “BUILD THE WALL!” as well, courtesy of our button maker.)

His behavior left an absolutely rotten taste in my mouth and a lot of people on my team are concerned that this shows FIRST is leaning towards an Anti-Free Speech position. This seems really counter-intuitive considering FRC is supposed to help prepare you better for going into the real world; when you see somebody with an opinion you don’t share, you can’t just make them go away; you either talk it out, or you ignore that person. FIRST Volunteers should exemplify good behavior, not throw it out the window.

Also, if the moderators close this thread because it’s ‘uncomfortable,’ then I guess we all know where they stand on free speech and open discussion.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Wear closed-toed shoes next time.

That’s pretty much irrelevant to the actual issue. If the volunteer had just told me that I couldn’t wear open-toed shoes and I needed to get a new pair, I would’ve had no problem with it, but he just HAD to inject that message with a “I WOULD’VE let it slide if it fit my political beliefs.” which not only shuns free speech, but also is detrimental to safety… If I were wearing a pair that he agreed with, he would’ve let me continue wearing them and then I injure myself?

I actually think this a good topic to bring up. I’ve gone into pits dozens of times without wearing safety glasses similar to the OP walking past the volunteers without wearing closed-toed shoes. Do we need to do more to ensure the safety rule are being enforced by the volunteers at the pit entrances?

(If I were in that position, I would be more concerned about the fact that they are flip-flops than what they say)

I don’t think it’s fair for you to take what this one volunteer said and try to pin it on FIRST as a whole. That’s just not fair at all. That being said, I think the volunteer was overstepping his job description. I would have taken it up with the volunteer coordinator.

The link takes me to a pair of flip flops, which might be a safety issue if you are wearing them into the pits. He probably saw them and was going to comment on how is a safety hazard and noticed the design and commented on how he disapproved of the candidate. How did he see what they said if you were wearing them?

I don’t think that FIRST is anti-free speech, but that the volunteer just had a different opinion than you did.

What one volunteer does, does not necessarily reflect the opinions of FIRST. Any person can volunteer at an FRC event. They get a little training and are thrown into whatever position they applied for. Its also worth mentioning what position this volunteer was in? Were they a safety adviser?

Next time just wear closed toe shoes.

If you have issues with a volunteer talk to the volunteer coordinator. With thousands of volunteers someone is bound to overstep their position. Its not FIRST’s fault.

To be totally honest, this strikes me as unlikely to be true.

First of all, I’m sorry you had that experience. In the future, you should speak to a planning committee member and ask to speak to the Volunteer Coordinator. There’s many ways they could handle the issue, including filing a Non Medical Incident Report, which gets handled by HQ after the event.

I’m surprised that you had flip flops on in the pit, more than anything. If the volunteer wouldn’t let you back in because of the safety issue, that would make sense, but I agree the angle the volunteer took was not the best one.

That’s not an exact quote, obviously… Are you saying I’m lying?

I mean absolutely no disrespect towards the OP or her/his political beliefs, but I personally believe that what her/his button said goes against what FIRST stands for. I believe that FIRST strives for breaking down barriers and uniting people despite their differences, and wanting to build walls goes against that. Perhaps the volunteer that the OP mentioned felt the same way about what the OP was wearing.

Please let’s not start a political debate…

It’s just kind of ironic that on a thread specifically about open discussion and freedom of speech, you try to shut down a discussion before it’s even begun.

I am not saying you’re lying. I’m saying that I have a hard time imagining a FIRST volunteer saying something like that. I can imagine someone having a misunderstanding with a volunteer that left them with that impression, especially since you unequivocally can’t go in the pits wearing those. But I don’t know what happened. If it occurred as you say, that’s awful and the volunteer needs a stern talking-to because that’s not something they should be doing. Get ahold of the event’s volunteer coordinator. That’s someone who can actually do something for you.

No volunteer would/should let someone wear flipflops in the pits. Period. Also did you take the flipflops off in the pits and show them to him? Not sure how he would be able to see what the design was through your feet.

I also mean no disrespect towards you, but I find it quite the opposite: Gracious professionalism is a hallmark of FIRST, and “respecting the community” is a big part of gracious professionalism. Illegally intruding upon a country is a big disrespect towards whatever community you illegally trek into.

We should discuss the idea of free speech and having your own opinion, but I do not believe this is the correct place to debate about the ideals of the presidential candidates.

I think it best to keep political opinions to ourselves because then instances like this happen when people have conflicting views.

Instances like what? There has been no disrespect over this entire thread between anybody, it’s just a healthy discussion. Everyone is using proper manners, even when they disagree. Why do you think an ‘instance like this’ is undesirable?

Chiefdelphi is a Robotics forum. In fact to quote the site directly “This is a discussion forum used to discuss the FIRST Robotics Competition.”

Talking about political views is a TERRIBLE idea here and frankly inappropriate. You are either a newly created Anon account or a first time CD user. If this is your first time here trust me in telling you a political discussion will turn sour very quickly.