LETTERS / ASU’s Total Free Speech Zone is 0.67 Percent of Campus Property

Published Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 9:52 am

Letter to the Editor:

It seems as though the topic of free speech resurfaces continually, whether it is related to campus protests, the university chalking policy, or the rights of different organizations to hold events on campus. The recent restrictions regarding Appalachian State University’s chalking policy has brought the scrutiny of several campus organizations, who believe that the new policy restricts the First Amendment rights of university students.

However, many students are unaware of the larger, overarching restrictions relating to campus free speech, which take the form of “unscheduled public speaking areas,” which are also referred to as “free speech zones.” These free speech zones include Sanford Mall, Durham Park, and the Duck Pond Field behind Trivette Hall. According to information provided by the ASU Physical Plant, this results in a total Free Speech Zone area of 0.67 percent of campus property.

While it seems reasonable that the area within academic buildings should maintain restrictions in order to ensure that classes are not disturbed, we would argue that campus free speech zones should be expanded in order to encompass a larger total property area.

According to the ACLU’s Student Guide to Campus Free Speech Zones, “Despite their name, campus ‘free speech zones,’ at their best tolerate speech but have little to do with actually encouraging lively and spirited expressive activities on campus. At their worst, by effectively fencing in campus speech and restricting such activity to a closed and limited physical area of campus, they represent a serious threat to the traditional model of a university operating as a quintessential marketplace of ideas.”

Therefore, we call upon the ASU administration to amend its current policies relating to both chalking and the current free speech zones in order to allow university students the opportunity to take part in the free expression of ideas, through the communication mediums of their choosing.

Signed,

Ryan Hofmann, ASU College Republican’s Events Chairman

Nick Williams, ASU Young Americans for Liberty Co-President

 

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