The clouds that bore down on Iowa State on Wednesday have a silver lining. Although many of us may very well have murmured to ourselves, “Rain rain go away / Come again another day,” the drops of water that fell from the sky in an on-again, off-again kind of way have one great virtue.

They had the effect of erasing some of the chalk that directed — nay, commanded — us to vote for President Barack Obama, and to do so by taking advantage of the early voting at the Memorial Union.

Those phrases, you may have noticed, were everywhere. And it was an egregious abuse of the privilege students have to decorate our sidewalks with public service announcements about upcoming events and support the clubs in which they hold membership. There is more to student life than the Obama campaign, yet the Obama for America crew has almost monopolized the sidewalks.

As important as it is to vote and perform our civic duty, this is not how it is done. Campaigns should not bludgeon potential voters with their presence. There ought to be some moderation, lest politics — as we have seen in this case — be everywhere. Unfortunately, however, not even the steps of one of our most noted campus landmarks, Curtis Hall, could escape defacement with directives to vote for Obama at the Memorial Union.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

A thriving political world, even if it consists solely of hollow slogans and commands rather than arguments, requires a thriving private world into which politics does not intrude. Any noun — be it a person, place or thing — requires other nouns to be distinct. The public world in which the actions of politics take place requires a private world, a refuge, from political action to keep from becoming an amorphous blob.

That is part of the reason the free speech zone on campus is confined to the lawn outside the Hub and Parks Library. The zone’s boundaries respect the fact that, as a university, Iowa State exists for the sake of education. As important as politics may be, and as important as students may be for electoral victories, we have other things going on in our lives than a presidential campaign full of childish, tit-for-tat campaign rhetoric that is as dishonest as it is annoying.

Making it so that we cannot walk five steps without treading across what, in terms of taste, is a hair-line step above graffiti, makes it very clear what the Obama campaign thinks of students. Rather than being able to make their own decisions, they need their hands held all the way to the voting booth. And of course, since it is Obama supporters leading us to our ballots, we’ll vote for him.

Showing off celebrities such as actor Justin Long and rock star Bruce Springsteen aren’t much better, but we can wait to comment on that until tomorrow.

(8) comments

Janice Rosenberg

Are you kidding me? You are complaining about chalk drawings from politically motivated ISU students. Many of these students will be voting in their first elections. We better thank our lucky stars they are passionate about the direction of our country.
When I graduated from ISU in 1979, politics was far from most students' minds.

The chalk will wash away with the afternoon rain. May their passion for politics and patriotism stay with them the rest of their lives.

Sarah Huempfner

As I read, I had hoped this was satire. I am proud of the incredibly motivated ISU students who are passionate enough to go out there and encourage voting. I find this editorial to be incredibly narrow minded and comes off as pompous and incredibly arrogant. I would hope the opinion staff would be more accepting of the student voice on campus, but apparently that is only when that voice says things the lofty opinion section wants to hear.

Abraham Sanogo

What a silly editorial.

Does the author really think "politics" can be separated from the rest of life? Politics necessarily occurs everywhere and and is the mark of a modern, reasoned human participating in advanced social systems. If one cannot handle politics, no matter how frequent or in-your-face, then one ought not endeavor to live anywhere else outside a cave. Furthermore, one should not attend university, if this is the case.



Nyajuok Deng

This editorial is a bit ridiculous.

The claim that the campaign doesn't have faith in students and has to hold hands over to the voting booth is a bit outlandish. The purpose of the chalk was not to force people to vote for Obama (i'm not sure how chalk can do that) but to remind the supporters on campus about early voting and to spark conversation for students who have yet to make up their minds.

As students we are very busy with various classes, jobs and extra-curricular activities. Voting is not always in the forefront of our minds so the chalk, canvassing and celebrities are to get the attention of students who have a lot going on and to remind them about how important it is for them to participate in the election process.

The chalk may seem to be too much for students that are following the election closely and know about when and where to vote but for some students they have found it helpful and it has gotten them to the polls.

Katherine Taylor

I can see how it would get annoying; especially if political messages are now getting into our inbox.

However, it should be noted that Obama volunteers/staff are not allowed near the polling places. As far as I've seen, they've respected that. So can it about the hand-holding thing.

Obama's political platform is more oriented toward opportunities for students; of course there will be student supporters who are aware of the chalking policy.

As the editorial mentioned, the rain washed away the chalk marks. Not permanent by any means.

The U.S. has a pathetically low voter turnout. It's to the point that many simply don't pay attention to the election. While it is a Midwestern cultural phenomenon to "avoid politics," the topics of discussion this election will directly affect people on campus. Who they vote for is one thing; however, unless they wake up and realize how much it could affect their lives, they won't get a say either way.

But logos aside, you're right about the sacred thing. Personally, I choose not to go around chalking sidewalks I don't know. The only "sidewalk" I've "chalked" is my husband's. The nerve of some people!

Tyler Kingkade

So inconsiderate of people writing in non-permanent chalk at a public university established by a federal government land grant that students should exercise their right to vote, and adding a suggestion students vote for a particular candidate. Our founding fathers would be ashamed if they knew people were engaging in the democratic process. Thomas Jefferson would want ISU students to only chalk about Tri-Delts fundraisers and stand up comedy at the M-Shop. Why can't these students limit themselves to the unconstitutional free speech zone?

Steve Gregg

It is the nature of the radical left, which Obama represents, to take possession of public property and use it to promote themselves. Every piece of Obama graffiti you see on university property warns you that Obama intends to use public property for his own promotion. Obama is the state.

Jess Chesher

Was this truly tagged free speech? Coming from Greenlee School journalism students? I'm not sure what self-censorship has to do with free speech other than occupying the status of antithesis, something seems wrong here. I don't care if someone is chalking up the place for Ron Paul or Bozo the Clown, who aren't even technically candidates, first amendment rights are first amendment rights. What is this drivel?

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