Iowa State University implemented a new chalking policy, effective this past Monday. The new policy limits who may chalk and what that person may chalk on the sidewalks of Iowa State.
Only registered student organizations are allowed to chalk, and the message is limited to an announcement for an event open to all students. The policy also limits the removal of chalking to the organization that wrote the message in the first place or university officials who find the chalking in violation of the new policy.
While the intent behind the policy is a positive one, with all of the recent events on campus, the new policy is pointless, and it’s embarrassing that the university even attempted to police the scribblings of adults.
A policy to prevent adults from writing on sidewalks with chalk, no matter how well enforced, will never work. Students will continue to chalk their messages without regard for the university’s new policy.
Though not an infringement on the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech, the university’s chalking policy is a limitation. It provides the university more control over what students can and can’t express on campus, perhaps rightfully so.
Institutions of higher learning claim to be champions of debate and free speech, but this policy is the opposite. So long as students aren’t using chalk to write hate speech, they should be allowed to chalk as they please across the sidewalks of Iowa State’s campus.
And even more so, they should be allowed to remove, append or modify any other chalking across Iowa State, regardless of the original author. Some might disagree, but consider the permanence of chalk with importance of the message it conveys.
If a person feels strongly enough about a subject, they should do more than scribble on a square of concrete most people only use to avoid walking in the mud.
Take to the free speech zone and make your opinion be heard.
The beauty of chalking is the ease with which it can be created and destroyed. It isn’t a concrete statement meant to stand the test of time. It’s some colorful limestone, legible for less than a week.
The only policies we need surrounding chalking are the laws surrounding hate speech and hate crimes. The university should certainly retain the power to remove chalking which violates these laws, and should do so diligently.