Students exercise free speech in protest of chalking ban

Chalking up issues with Binghamton University’s posting policies to a matter of free speech, Dorm Room Diplomacy promoted the First Amendment by creating a poster board “wall” on which students could exercise their rights and express themselves.

According to Binghamton University posting policy, “Writing in chalk on any building or University sidewalk or roadway is strictly prohibited. Any group found claking [sic.] will be charged a clean up fee and will lost [sic.] reservation privileges.”

Ben Sheridan, vice president of Dorm Room Diplomacy International, said he disagrees with the ban.

“The idea that chalking is illegal on campus — it’s ridiculous. You can get a ticket for it,” said Sheridan, a senior majoring in political science.

Jordan Clifford, vice president of Dorm Room Diplomacy and a senior majoring in political science, also said that the chalk ban restricts a student’s right to free speech.

“I could understand it if people were writing obscenities and stuff like that, but it still is free speech,” Clifford said.

On Monday students were encouraged to write whatever they wanted on a poster board “wall” to exercise their right to free speech. There was a diverse practice of free speech, as postings on the wall ranged from animal drawings to political statements.

Clifford said the wall theme represents the various restrictions of freedom throughout society.

Although most of the postings on the wall were respectful and inspirational, there was an instance of “hate speech” when someone wrote, “Zionism is Fascism.”

“Oftentimes, we find that hate speech doesn’t accomplish anything,” Clifford said. “Free speech is free speech. It’s up to the person how they want to use it.”

After the event, Dorm Room Diplomacy plans to take the wall to a panel of professors and determine what the prominent issues on campus might be so that they can address them.

“It’s unclear if there’s one overriding issue that everyone cares about over something else, but we’re getting a good sense,” Sheridan said.

Dorothy Manevich, president of Dorm Room Diplomacy and a senior double-majoring in history and political science, said she hopes that seeing the expression of free speech on the wall will inspire students to become more engaged in international relations.

“A lot of what we [Dorm Room Diplomacy] talk about comes back down to fundamental rights as a human being, and freedom of speech is one of those rights,” Sheridan said.

Paul Chen, a senior majoring in biochemistry, said he attended the event to show his support in raising awareness of the importance of free speech.

“Freedom of speech should be expanded upon to ensure that people can live in a just society,” Chen said. “People today take that right for granted while in other places, those people are not permitted this right.”