This week we got to put on one of my favorite events, a Free Speech Ball! This is the third free speech event that I've been a part of and every time we put it on it has been a hit. This is my favorite event because we get to go out and ask people to do something that they almost never get asked “Say whatever you want.” In our modern day college students are rarely given the opportunity to create something, to think outside the box, and to make something without someone telling them exactly what to do. Essentially we are living in a society that has always colored inside the lines.
We had a lot of great comments and drawings on our free speech ball, including a full length poem about dreams by anonymous. We consistently had large crowds gathering around and we ran out of permanent markers multiple times. This event lends itself to lots of sign-ups and really got our club some great recognition.
This event is part of the greater push for free speech that YAL is currently putting on. Although we sent out the trigger letter to our Dean of Students, we garnered no response from the university administration. Although FIRE gives our school a yellow light rating due to our “vague sexual harassment policies” I have never heard of or experienced any sort of speech suppression on our campus. In fact there is one gentleman who comes to campus about once a semester who is colloquially known as “That Crazy Preacher Guy”. He will come to campus and spout some of the most hateful, quasi religious rhetoric that I have ever heard. While 95% of the students disagree with him vehemently, he still creates a community about him. Students will gather and discuss amongst themselves why they disagree with his hateful rhetoric. This is just another example of free speech leading to people coming together and creating a strong community.
Overall the event was a hit and our follow up meeting was an interesting look at the use of utilitarianism in fighting for free speech. In the end we all learned how free speech ultimately leads to the greatest amount of good for all. I can't wait for our next free speech event.