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Exchange your freedom for free lunch during First Amendment festival

RELEASED: April 19, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will host a First Amendment Free Food Festival at 11 a.m. 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 held in Schofield Auditorium.

Volunteers from sponsoring organizations will interact with students through a variety of roles, from the police known as the "goon squad," to dictators making rules for those within Freelandia's boundaries.

"That's when it gets interesting," said SPJ president Jenny You, a senior from Cottage Grove, Minn. "Students who disobey the dictator will face consequences such as something ridiculous like doing the Macarena for wearing a red shirt. Everyone is going to have a lot of fun, whether they're playing a role in the event or coming into this land of no rights to get free food."

Sodexo, UW-Eau Claire's food service provider, is co-sponsoring the event with a food station. Soup and sandwiches, chips and refreshments will be provided to participants.

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 or 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 land and wait for their free food and drink, they'll realize there's not really a compromise for their rights. Hopefully they'll walk away with a new outlook on the personal freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment."

Other event sponsors include the Dean of Students Office, department of communication and journalism, Student Senate, University Activities Commission, Volume One, The Flip Side, The Spectator and Studio 105.

For more information, contact Jenny You at youju@uwec.edu or 651-983-7801.

-30-

RD/DW

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