Society of Professional Journalists’ festival to teach about First Amendment rights
EAU CLAIRE – The UW-Eau Claire chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will host a First Amendment Free Food Festival at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 28 on the UW-Eau Claire campus mall.
The three-hour event aims to raise awareness of First Amendment rights by offering students and community members a free lunch – in exchange for a willingness to sign away their rights to freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition.
Students and community members will be invited to visit the “Dictatorial Republic of Freelandia,” a roped-off section of the campus mall. Before entering, participants sign a form agreeing to give up their rights in exchange for their free meal. In case of rain, the event will be hold in Schofield auditorium
Volunteers from sponsoring organizations will be interacting with students through a variety of roles, from the police known as the “goon squad” to protesters to dictators, making rules for those within the “country’s” boundaries. That’s when it gets interesting, according to SPJ president and senior Jenny You.
“Students who disobey the dictator will face the consequences and it could be something ridiculous like doing the Macarena for wearing a red shirt,” You said. “Everyone is going to have a lot of fun whether they're playing a role in the event as a goon squad member, acting out the roles of activists or if they're coming into this land of no rights where they can get free food.”
Sodexo, UW-Eau Claire's food service provider, is co-sponsoring the event with a food station. Sodexo will be providing soup and sandwiches with chips and a drink for students participating
You said the event is a great way for participants to look at our First Amendment rights with a global perspective.
"I'm not sure where our liberal education would be nor how our community would function without these First Amendment rights," You said. "This experience will go beyond what we learn in the classroom, because history texts and lectures don't let us experience a society without these rights. Once people enter this right-less land and wait for their free food and drink, they'll realize there's not really a compromise for their rights. They'll hopefully walk home with a new outlook on the personal freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment."
The event is sponsored by the following organizations: SPJ, the Dean of Students' office, Sodexho, The Flip Side, The Spectator, Studio 105, Student Senate, University Activities Comission and the Student Life and Diversity Commission.