Searching for voices

Free Speech Friday at the quad turned into a struggle Friday to get students to voice their opinion and participate.

Three students who took part in the event stood shouting into megaphones, while the majority of students, faculty and staff walked by without looking or saying anything.

“Normally people don’t come up to us, we have to go to them,” Free Speech Fridays founder Alex Lykins said.

When they pick a person out of the crowd and encourage them to come up, most say no and walk away.

This event was created to show people they have the right to express themselves. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to participate.

“Anyone can voice their opinions on any day, but on Fridays we bring out a megaphone and encourage anyone and everyone to say what they want to say,” said Rebecca Burch, associate professor of psychology and Students for Global Change adviser.

“Why wouldn’t you want your voice to be heard?” said Shane Hillman, a Free Speech Friday founder. Hillman thinks people are shy because of societal pressures to not go against authority.

“This keeps people’s heads down and mouths shut,” Lykins said, who believes that the longer we don’t talk, the more our freedom to talk will be lost.

Some students go out of their way to avoid the group involved in Free Speech Friday, walking around the quad instead of through where the group resides. One student started cursing at the group.

“Students need to be more involved in their campus, their society and their government,” Burch said.

Faculty members have been supportive of the group’s intentions and exercised their own free speech.

People who came up to speak on the microphone talked about issues with the environment, school tuition increases, war, peace and happiness as well as where our tuition money is going. Every Friday, Lykins and Hillman read passages from the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment and the policies written in the student handbook.

One student spoke in regards to Halloween costumes. “Dressing up as an Indian is dressing up as a racist,” said senior Karla Gutierrez, a psychology major.

“Get up and do something,” another student, Scott Colao, said.

“It is more about the fact that a message is being spoken, rather than what the message means,” Lykins said.

Free Speech Friday was created about a month ago, due to the concern students had about not having anywhere to voice their opinions and concerns.

“We realized that many aren’t aware of their First Amendment rights,” Burch said.

The event happens every Friday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. University Police has involved themselves in the event to let the group’s organizers know what types of speech are disorderly.