Free Speech at Boise State

On September 27th, Boise State University’s YAL chapter rolled out a massively oversized beach ball with one intent in mind – let students express themselves. With a little bit of sand in the bottom to keep it from blowing away, YAL students rolled the ball around campus with markers, asking students to write anything they wanted on it(so long as it was protected by the First Amendment). With an overwhelming response from the student body, the ball was quickly covered in signatures, drawings, meme references, and anything else that happened to be on the students minds.

One of the most astonishing things about this demonstration was the psychological experiment that it enabled. The students were given a forum to write or draw whatever they wanted, no guidelines, no oversight, and relatively anonymous. The students responded by writing mostly positive messages, encouraging thoughts, and uplifting comments. This discovery proves one simple immutable fact – that when people are given freedom, they use it for good. By taking away an individuals rights, we restrict them from doing GOOD things, and the bad things still happen.

In addition to the student response, the student newspaper, The Arbiter, came and took pictures and interviewed the chapter president, Mark Goodale, as well many students who were signing the ball as well as the petition calling on Boise State to adopt the Chicago Principles of free speech. The petition received close to 200 signatures, while the ball was written on by nearly 500 students. Students want their voices to be heard, and they’re willing to fight for it. The Associated Student Body president released an email within 3 hours to all 25,000 students in support of YAL’s efforts, and called on students everywhere to exercise their rights to free speech and make themselves heard. Boise State has no choice but to respond, and YAL will fight every step of the way to make sure the response is one that includes the adopting of the Chicago Principles.

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