For our first Constitution Week, we made a free speech wall to get students engaged with their first amendment rights (or lack thereof) on our campus. Many students were interested in the event and participated by writing something down.
We ran into many, shall we say difficulties, while planning the event.
- We weren’t an officially recognized club by the school at the time (we are now though, yay!), so we were unable to sign-up for school sanctioned tabling. In response, I applied the idea of “Never ask permission, only ask forgiveness” and we tabled anyway.
- St. Olaf College issued new posting policies this year, in which any posters with hand written words or phrases cannot be displayed on campus. This policy was in response to a few instances of profanity and derogatory remarks written on posters last year. Although derogatory remarks are unacceptable, banning students from expressing their thoughts is extreme.
We designed a free speech wall in order for students to be able to express themselves and advocate for their first Amendment rights. The first amendment is vital for every American citizen, including the St. Olaf Community. After many emails and phone calls, we were able to obtain permission to display our free speech wall in the cafeteria, as long as it was out of reach from students.
Almost surprisingly, we had multiple students ask if our free speech wall was in response to the new, ridiculous posting policies and offered their support for our cause.
Here are a few examples of what students wrote:
Overall, I would deem this Constitution Week as a success. Although the display of our wall was not exactly ideal, it still was able to be displayed. We were also able to get many more sign-ups for our organization, and most importantly, sparked conversation about the Constitution and our rights on campus!Published in