What would this university’s campus be without colored chalk messages scrawled all over the place? Sans the efforts of chalk-crazy groups like the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary, groups of prospective students touring the campus would be met with far more drab surroundings. And as annoying as the chalking gets around Michigan Student Assembly campaign time, it’s visible – which means it gets the job done.
Sadly, these multi-colored announcements, at some colleges and universities, are becoming restricted and perhaps are on their way to being outlawed altogether. The University of Michigan should not join in on this slippery slope to silencing student voices.
In an unfortunate trend, universities across the nation are implementing chalking restrictions. The University of Kentucky now requires students to get permits before they are allowed to chalk. The University of Nebraska restricts chalking to two specific places on campus. Some schools frighteningly even have “free speech zones,” in which all political activism is confined. Many more schools are looking into changing the chalking policy on campus; the University should not be one of them.
Universities are worried that chalked sidewalks will be used to spread hate. It is true that occasionally messages of hate have been chalked on the sidewalks. But for the overwhelming majority, the sidewalks have been used as informal forums for student announcements and not for hateful writing. Students should be trusted to use the sidewalks for the proper reasons.
Chalk is a popular medium of advertisement because it is inexpensive. Student organizations, much like the students who run them, do not have much money. The money they do have is better spent on organizing events than wasting money on ways to advertising for them.
Not only is paper and xeroxing more expensive, it is also wasteful. Much of the paper used to advertise events ends up in the trash. The flyers fall off the places they are posted and liter the campus. Chalk is environmental friendly.
It’s also just chalk. It washes off the sidewalks with rain and if the school is particularly disturbed about something that is chalked on the sidewalk, it can be gotten rid of immediately. It is much easier to wash chalk off a sidewalk than it is to tear down countless flyers.
University officials are always trying to encourage the students to be involved in school activities. Chalking is the easiest, most efficient and least polluting type of advertising for student groups and their events. By banning chalking or restricting it, the universities are making student involvement much more difficult. Chalking gives the campus character and shows perspective students that the University has a vibrant student body. Prohibiting this type of expression will only serve to squelch student activism and expression.