MSA candidates, a capella singers and preachers inhabit the Diag
daily. Unless you belong to a political student group, a cultural
organization or Random Acts of Kindness, you have probably never
been part of a rally or protest on the Diag. Well, today’s
the day to affirm your rights as a student and take back the Diag
to publicize your own ideas.

Weekend Magazine
Students often use the spacious area of the Diag to host large rallies for upcoming events or past remembrances, including football games, anti-war protests and candlelight vigils (File Photos).

Planning a protest or rally actually requires a sizable amount
of effort. Of course you don’t need to have the lofty goals
of legalizing marijuana, increasing health insurance among graduate
student instructors or ending the war in Iraq to receive a permit.
The Diag serves as the perfect venue to share messages with
students and the greater Ann Arbor community. For years, this spot
has served as the stage for many political demonstrations.

“The diag is a perfect forum to communicate my message
with hundreds of students,” said Jonathon Goldberg,
co-president of American Movement for Israel. Goldberg adds that,
students who don’t stop by his table are still exposed to his
messages, which is another important aspect of tabling on the
Diag.

You just need to follow a few basic steps to reserve either the
area in front of the steps of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library,
a spot for a table or pretty much anything else in this
well-trodden space.

To begin, you should plan the time and date of your event
accordingly. “As far in advance as possible, depending on the
elaborateness of your request,” said Ray Wixson, Office of
Student Activities and Leadership office manager. SAL oversees Diag
space allocation and usage. If your group does not require an
elaborate set-up, “one week’s notice should be
enough,” Wixson said. Sound-amplified events usually occur
between noon and 1 p.m. only.

Now that you have the time and date resolved, it’s time to
visit the SAL office, located on the second floor of the Michigan
Union, to hand in your Diag usage proposal. The proposal does not
necessarily have to include the message and purpose of your event.
Rather, it should consist of the means by which you intend to
promote and share your message.

For example, you might decide to have a table with free hot
chocolate and fliers. Make sure that the proposal goes into detail
describing the means by which you intend to share your
group’s message. If you plan on sledge-hammering a vehicle,
make sure you include a descriptive account for the safety of the
group members and those passing by.

SAL approval for Diag usage follows the guidelines of
“content-neutral evaluation,” Wixson said. By this type
of evaluation, the University cannot stop a group from publicizing
any message, unless the manner by which it is done poses a physical
threat to the participants or the diag itself. SAL generally
approves more than 95 percent of all Diag usage requests, he
said.

Sometimes it might be helpful to include the content of the
message inside your proposal if you believe that it is
controversial. If this is the case, SAL will notify DPS to monitor
the safety of both participants and pedestrians. Saturday’s
Hash Bash rally in the Diag, with its intense police presence,
demonstrates DPS’s role in keeping an eye on the physical
safety of more than 1,500 Hash-Bashers. Demonstrators, whose
presence jeopardizes the safety of themselves and those partaking
in the rally, will be removed by DPS if police feel their presence
and message is getting out of hand.

Remember to keep in mind a few University rules before, during
and after your event. One, “publicizing your event must only
occur following SAL approval,” Wixson said. Secondly, it is
against University policy to sell anything in the Diag itself. This
includes anything from T-shirts and pins to cookies. Even
charitable organizations must not use “coercive” means
(i.e. stickers or pins) to motivate donations.

Using the Diag is one of the most effective means to disseminate
your message with the student body and Ann Arbor community. If you
are interested in reserving space for a table or the steps of the
Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, don’t feel intimidated. The
process is relatively simple and pain-free. For more information,
visit SAL’s office or their website
www.umiche.edu/~salead.

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