The Arizona Desert Lamp

Chalk up a win

Posted in Media, Politics by Connor Mendenhall on 29 September 2009

Chalk is speech!By now you’ve probably seen the press release: Under orders from President Shelton, UAPD has dropped all criminal charges against my colleague and co-blogger Evan Lisull, as well as grad student Jacob Miller, last week’s original sidewalk scrawler.

Both will still face code of conduct hearings from the Dean of Students some time in the indefinite future. Evan plans to avoid public comments until the proceedings wrap up, but it’s safe to say that we at the Lamp are pleased that the administration finally did the right thing and dropped charges, and that so many students showed their support for First Amendment rights on campus.

We owe our readers, our colleagues, and the UA community serious thanks for the support they offered Evan and the attention they brought to the Free Chalk for Free Speech protest. We also owe thanks to the many students who helped hand out chalk and the many more who had the courage to scribble their support for free speech on public sidewalks all over campus. It is a rare day when a university policy swings from total idiocy to relative sanity over the course of a few hours, but you made it happen.

For obvious reasons, we didn’t have much spare time to update today, but our peers in the UA blogging community and local media did an excellent job.

The Arizona Daily Wildcat published extensive coverage all day: an article on initial indignance following the Miller arrest, news of Evan’s citation this morning, and, as of the current online issue, a photo gallery of selected scribbles across campus, a detailed writeup of the student response, and an editorial in support of the “UA Chalking Rebellion of 2009”.

Pseudonymous blogger Sally Gradstudent broke the first news of Evan’s arrest, and kept the updates coming, as did the folks at Arizona for Education. A group of faculty and grad students even started Chalk is Speech, a blog of their own in support of the Hopscotch Two.

Meanwhile, Tucson media picked up the story: Matt Lewis at the Daily Star, Jim Nintzel at the Tucson Weekly, and Renee Schafer Horton at the Tucson Citizen, along with TV reports from KOLD and ABC-15, and interviews with local channels KGUN9 and FOX11. Evan even hit the (digital) pages of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Of course, though today’s events were a victory for freedom of expression, the University of Arizona is still far from “firmly committed to defending, celebrating and hosting free expression” as described in their latest press release. Our campus speech policies merit a red light rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and overbroad restrictions on student speech like a designated “free speech area” at one end of the public Mall, a set of arcane rules for signs and banners, and a tendency to charge onerous fees for controversial speakers are still on the books.

For now, however, we’re chalking up this one as a win. Thanks for all the support.

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One Response

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  1. Garrett P. O'Hara said, on 29 September 2009 at 3:20 am

    Holy crap!

    I can see a lot of good coming out of this for your efforts. Stay strong! Wish I was there.


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