Is There Really Free Speech at HSU?

You’re out on the quad with a mic in hand, passionately talking about your club or the current events that are happening. A quick hour goes by and now you have to hand your mic back. After this, you result to speaking out to the quad and yelling with your own voice. Was that hour enough to say what you wanted to say?

Freedom of speech on a college campus tends to be a little faulty at times. For something as crucial as a human right stated in the Constitution, freedom of speech has a lot of regulations and policies that go towards it on college campuses. To start, the policy at HSU states that students can have amplified sound from the hour of 12-1 p.m., and after that hour the students are free to speak out however they want without having it be amplified sound.

Does having a ‘free speech hour’ make our free speech limited? Or is it better to have these regulations?

Recently, the club at HSU known as MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) was sanctioned because they went overtime on their free speech hour. This made them lose their privileges of being able to reserve their table in the center of the UC quad, and the rest of their events for the semester are cancelled. Lucky for them it was merely only a “slap on the wrist” as MEChA club member Kevin Martinez explained. More drastic measures means the club could potentially get banned from campus.

“We’ve done it [go over time] multiple times,” said Martinez. “But, it seems a bit contradictory on the administration’s part. Sometimes you need more than an hour to say what you have to say.”

The reason why it may seem like a contradicting policy is because some students may feel that they should have the right to speak out whenever they want. It is a matter of having that speech be amplified and loud out on the quad. But when the microphone or megaphone is taken away from them, is the message still just as effective if they’re yelling out.

Now on the administration’s side, they are concerned that it is a potential disruption to classes happening around the UC Quad.

“We constantly get complaints from faculty,” said Tay Triggs, associate dean of Student Engagement & Leadership. “[In Founder’s Hall or Siemens Hall] students hear the noise outside and are more concerned about going outside instead of focusing in class.”

Despite administration going along with the policy, students have emphasized that the free speech hour should definitely be extended to two hours. MEChA members have expressed that the single hour of free speech is not nearly enough time to say what they have to say, and that goes for any club on campus.

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