Free Speech Wall at Southern Illinois University

Hello all! My name is Derek Lawrence and I’m currently heading things up at the Southern Illinois University chapter of YAL while our president is out of state.

We were not able to get anything together during the “actual” constitution week, other than handing out constitutions and spreading the word. This was primarily due to the fact that our university uses Orgsync, and I hadn’t been approved as a member, and wasn’t able to get anything “approved” as an event. The system meant to “simplify” RSO interaction also seems to be very useful in discriminating against those who might stand up against oppressive policies, aye?

Regardless of all of this, I was not ready to give up. Thankfully I had been networking with the Leadership Institute long before I ever arrived on campus at SIU. This event was funded out of our own pockets and with some additional support from Craig Dixon of the Leadership Institute. Together we managed to overcome our hectic schedules in order to put together a plan of action; granted, we did so at midnight the night before our planned table event, but that is neither here nor there.

That is cool, bro.

We held a Free Speech Wall and it was a blast. We did add an extra element, however. Craig came up with the idea to have a contrast of what certain states allow and what others do not. Our concept was “Free Speech or Free Food.” More or less, you could write on the Free Speech Wall, or you could take a free McDouble from the university McDonald’s. The catch with the latter being that if you take the food, you have to sit in a makeshift jail while the Soviet anthem plays.

The Jail

This was an attempt to show what it is like to live in a state like the USA where you are allowed to speak your mind, or to live in a state like Russia, where you are given the basics of what you need to live, but not necessarily allowed to speak or act freely.

#TheHappening

We had a pretty good response, and I’m fairly sure we only had one person who was willing to sit in jail for a McDouble. We actually ended up giving them away as a prize for those who wanted to write on the wall and wouldn’t cave to the temptation of the oppressive McDank statist authority. We managed to produce a pretty good turnout. We actually had one sign-up who was so enthralled by our efforts, he stuck around for THREE HOURS and managed to pull in four sign-ups himself.

Liberty vs. Tyranny

Our last second Free Speech Wall was completely filled with writing, and we managed a page and a half of sign-ups at a university who had barely, if ever, heard the name Young Americans for Liberty. We have a long way to go here, but I think the only direction we can go is up. Wish us luck.

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