Free speech on the plaza

 Uncategorized
Aug 262004
 
Authors: Krystle Clayton

 

 

Angela Miller walked away with a feeling of disgust Monday after

talking with a religious group out on the Lory Student Center

Plaza.

“The guy who talked to me told me that I was going to hell, even

though I honesty believe that I am saved in the Lord’s eyes,” said

Miller, a sophomore human development and family studies major.

According to CSU Peaceful Assembly Policies and Procedures, the

Plaza has been designated as the primary “public forum” space for

CSU so groups such as this are not in the wrong.

CSU honors the rights of students and others to assemble in

groups for peaceful purposes. If a group or individual assembles in

a manner that may be seen as controversial, Campus Activities

planners will do their best to provide staff members for students

to talk to for resources and information, said Mari Strombom,

director of Campus Activities.

The physical parameter of the Plaza as a free-speech zone

includes the south boundary of the northernmost edge of the paving

stones. The west boundary is the stone seating wall and the

flowerbeds are the east boundary. Finally, the north boundary is

the edge of the north stairs, according to the literature.

While the majority of free-speech demonstrations are

non-controversial, not all assemblies have had a positive reaction

from students.

Miller was not the only one offended by one of the groups

preaching on the Plaza Monday.

“I think it’s a form of harassment,” said Angela Wilson, a

senior computer science major. “They’re forcing their opinions on

you rather then talking to you about it.”

Controversial issues may arise because groups are not required

to register before assembling on the Plaza. Strombom said the group

on Monday failed to identify itself when she asked them to move

away from Morgan Library, which is not apart of the public forum

area.

One of the other obstacles the Campus Activities staff has to

face is fully defending those who choose to use the public forum

area.

“One of the challenges of monitoring the free-speech zone is

being able to defend what someone else’s beliefs are, even if they

are counter to your own,” Strombom said.

 

Breakout: If students have any questions about peaceful assembly

on the Plaza they can contact the Event Planning Office at

491-0229; they can also contact the Campus Activities Center at

491-6626.

Congress shall make no law respecting…abridging the freedom of

speech, or of the press; or the right Of the people peaceably to

assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of

grievances.

-First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

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