Students wonder how ‘free’ speech lawns are
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Updated: Sunday, January 13, 2013 14:01
In the Jan. 10 issue, this story incorrectly stated that students were restricted to certain areas on campus to demonstrate publicly. In fact, the designated areas are for non UCF-affiliated demonstrators. Students can assemble virtually anywhere on campus as long as their activities don’t interfere with classes or normal activities or infringe upon the rights of other members of the UCF community.
From American flags that represent those who were lost on 9/11 to pictures of aborted fetuses, students may not know what to expect when passing the Free Speech Lawn.
UCF has allotted six areas, known as Free Assembly Areas, around campus where people and groups affiliated and non-affiliated with the university can go to speak their mind. Notable locations include the grass area between Millican Hall and the Mathematical Sciences Building, the Grass Area between the John T. Washington Center and Student Union and between Memory Mall and Classroom Building I.
Some students believe designating locations for free speech infringes on the concept as outlined in the First Amendment.
“A free speech area is an oxymoron. If you’re limited to a certain area, your speech and your assembly are not free,” senior political science major Andrew Green said.
Junior legal studies major German Beard agreed UCF needs more areas for students to voice their opinions.
“While the First Amendment Right to freedom of speech and assembly is not absolute, I do believe that there should be more than one official area to make unscheduled demonstrations. A university community thrives under an environment where a great diversity of opinions are voiced freely,” Beard said.
Freshman political science major Kayla Cayasso said that at a public university free speech should be protected in all areas.
“As a public university, free speech should be protected and even welcome across the entire campus. It would foster better exchange of ideas and growth, which is really the whole point of the college experience,” Cayasso said.