Today at UCA we set up a Free Speech Wall on campus to spread awareness on campus rights and individual rights. According to FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, UCA has been given a red speech code rating. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. For UCA, that policy is our Free Speech Zone.
In our handbook it states that “the free expression of views and opinions either by individuals or groups must not violate any rights of others or disrupt the normal function of the university, or violate any of the provisions of the UCA Student Handbook listed as “offenses subject to disciplinary action.” Some of these offenses include, any form of verbal harassment, the use of abusive or obscene language, disruptive behavior, making an offensive coarse utterance, gesture, or display, and disrespecting university officials.
Our designated zone for Free Speech is the Chapel area, and it does not exceed 50 feet in any direction.If you want to practice Free Speech on any other parts of campus, you must be scheduled and approved.
The UCA chapter of YAL believes that the University needs to start preparing its students for the real world and start teach responsibility. Instead, the University is treating students like children by creating policies to prevent offensive behavior.
The Arkansas Center for Research in Economics here at UCA, kindly donated a Free Speech Kit to our YAL chapter in order to complete this activism project. ACRE works very closely with us, and we fight for many of the same issues. ACRE is “committed to personal and economic freedom principles proven to lead to improvements in human well-being.” They find solutions for the issues Arkansans face in their daily lives, and train the next generation of researchers, teachers, voters, and business leaders. The kit they donated to us was a Learn Liberty project from the Institute for Humane Studies. It came with a set up wall, a tripod, informational handouts, and sign up sheets.
We gave students the opportunity to exercise their first amendment right, outside of the zone. They were able to write whatever they wanted on the wall. The free speech sayings ranged from bible verses to curse words.
Additionally, we handed out pocket constitutions and “Why Liberty” books, also donated to us from ACRE. The students loved the wall, we even had some families participate. By the end of the day, we had the whole sheet covered with crazy things from the wonderful students at UCA. It definitely showed the personality this campus has, and that should never be restricted by some silly zone.