Do you live in America? Congratulations you have the right to free speech!
Whether you are an organization, and elected official, an journalist, an artist, or just an everyday person who has something to say, you have this right. As students at EMU we also have the right to express our freedom of speech on Eastern’s “wall of speech”.
The First Amendment to the Constitution gives individuals the right to say whatever they want, so long as their words do not bring harm to another, without fear of government interference.
Eastern Michigan University encourages this right and gives their students the opportunity to share their speech by allowing students to put it on the “wall of speech” in the middle of campus.
The “wall of speech” consists of two cement walls and nearby cement cylindrical kiosk located in the grassy area between the Rec/IM, Porter, and Pray-Harrold building. According to student government at EMU, these walls are a call for the students’ creativity to communicate upcoming events and other public messages.
Utilizing the wall is a great way for students to share their ideas about things going on, on campus or in the world. Whatever they want to write on the wall they can.
Whether a group or club on campus wants to promote an event, or whether a person randomly feels like painting, any and everyone should take advantage of this opportunity and should utilize the “wall of speech”
If a student or group would like to paint on the “wall of speech”, there are a few rules to remember:
- Any Eastern Michigan University student may access the walls and the kiosk at any time. Free-speech is waiting for everybody and for nobody! If you want to speak up, do it! But, if you don’t want to deliver your message on the wall of speech, the wall won’t wait for you… It is always there and will always communicate something.
- Painting any of these spaces does not guarantee that a message will remain for any amount of time. You might finish painting at 10 p.m. only to see the wall repainted again at 5:30 a.m. (true story)
- The best thing about free speech also contains its biggest weakness; all speech, even hate speech is protected.
- You must remember, “Every time hate speech is permitted, it costs someone part of his or her self, part of their self-respect, or part of their sanity” (unknown). Hate speech does not accomplish anything. We encourage political, educational and social deliberation that will challenge other people’s thoughts, but before acting, ask yourself what are you trying to achieve with your messages? How are people going to accept and interpret the messages?
- If you were exposed to controversial statements that may offend you, try to see them as a spark of a conversation and a debate. The first amendment wasn’t designed to protect mainstream ideas that already have much support and no need for protection, so look at the message as an intellectual debate rather than personal attack.
We encourage all students to take out their paint and brushes and put their ideas out for everyone to see! So get out there and do something creative today!
Michal Liberman is an swimmer at EMU. She is a junior, majoring in public relations. Michal is from Israel originally, works part time in the EMU Division of Communications, and is featured in EMU’s #YouAreWelcomeHere banner campaign.