YAL at UW-Milwaukee gets Censored on Campus: The War on Youth

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YAL at UW-Milwaukee kicked off the “War on Youth” campaign with a bang and the Pong off your Debt game was a huge hit with students. The event went over so well educating the students on governmental policies that are adversely affecting our generation that we wanted to do it again before the semester was over.

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That day came just two weeks later, this time we recruited some outside help from Generation Oppertunity and had our local representative from Wisconsin table with us. We were especially excited because they were kind to help us with prizes such as bracelets, sunglasses, and t-shirts! Prizes outside from our pocket Constitutions, were something we really didn’t have last time to entice people to learn more about the cause of liberty ,so we were certain this event would be bigger than the last.

As we were getting setup, we were stopped by Union officials saying that playing “interactive” games at a tabling session was prohibited by the guidelines prescribed by the University.

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I spoke up during this altercation and tried explaining to the staff member that we have not only done this specific event before without worry, but other interactive events such as a Free Speech Wall in the past without incident, so we were a bit confused on why were being censored from involving our student body.

They articulated that the concern was over a matter of “limited space” and that the interactivity could interfere with student traffic in the area. We were then told that each tabling event for any student organization is designated a 5X6 square and that the interactivity of the game could spark some safety concerns as well. I spoke up again that I understood the primary concern for the safety of the students, but then bounced it back that if this was such a concern, why were we not stopped the first time we ran the event previously. They then quipped that they “just might have seen the previous event” which had myself and other chapter members puzzled — we table every Tuesday from 10:30-2:30, where was union staff during those 4 hours?

We stopped setup of the Pong off your debt game and I asked to see the rules that are put in place for tabling events. Here they are verbatim, taken from our University’s website:

Use of Lobby Booth Space in

UWM Student Union and Reservable Adjacent Commons Space

The UWM Union offers eight booth spaces within the Atrium commons and six additional booths in adjacent reservable breezeway space (three in Bolton Exchange and three in Lubar Hall Exchange).

All booths will include one 5’ x 30” table and 2 chairs. No Booths will be given access to electrical power.

Booths can be reserved for the current academic semester only. Please contact the Union Reservations and Event Planning Office for information on future bookings. Booths can be booked for no more than 2 whole days or 4 half days per week. Any booking inclusive of the 12 pm – 1:00 pm hour will be considered whole day.

The use of artificial noise making equipment is prohibited in this space due to the close proximity of the booths. Artificial noise making equipment includes both amplified and non-amplified equipment (speaker systems, drums, guitars, etc.).

Booths are available to all registered Student Organizations and pre-authorized Campus Department Clients for the following uses:

a. Sale of Pre-authorized, home-made food products handled in accordance with the guidelines for food sales inside of the UWM Union.

b. Ticket Sales for Student or University Originated Events.

c. Literature Distribution

d. Information Only table.

e. Sale of items containing, in visible print, the sponsoring organization’s name or logo. (These items must be pre-registered with the Reservations and Event Planning Office).

All sales must be for the sole purpose of fund raising for the reserving organization or department.

Off-Campus Entities wishing to use lobby booth space must be sponsored by a registered Student Organization or pre-authorized Campus Department and will be subject to applicable fees including, but not limited to, space usage. Off-Campus entities may only use lobby booth space for employment recruiting. Neither the solicitation of goods/services or providing information about an off-campus entities goods/services will be permitted.

All Lobby Booths must be staffed at all times during their registered time of use.

After reading the same rules as above, we decided to evoke our inner Henry David Thoreau, and instill a firm belief in Civil Disobedience. We kept the War on Youth display down, but then operated a prize wheel at our table and interacted with many students as they spun the wheel for various prizes. No union officials would come back to enforce their “laws.”  

use as last photo

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