By Tessa Dury
Florida Tech students were enticed by one particular thing this week to exercise their first amendment right of free speech; cookies.
The first of many events for the week began with censorship-free writing upon the blank canvas walls outside the Student Union Building on Monday, Feb. 17.
Students were encouraged to write whatever they wanted on the free speech walls. In exchange for exercising their First Amendment right, they were granted a cookie. “I came for the free cookies,” said Brian Dixon, a junior majoring in meteorology. “But seeing some of the things on here, it brings awareness to certain problems,” Dixon said. “You see what people are upset about and it drives you to do more in community outreach.”
Many students wrote on the walls and a variety of topics were covered. Some students wrote inspirational quotes such as ‘it’s okay to not be okay,’ and ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici,’ which is Latin and translates to ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’
Other students wrote jokes on the walls while some commented on current social and political issues, Bible verses, tributes to Kobe Bryant and personal music preferences.
The free speech walls also became a way for students to have anonymous hand-written debates next to comments they agreed or disagreed with. Students wrote on differing opinions on climate change, the Clery Act and presidential candidates.
“People shouldn’t be censored on what they say by an official authority,” Ella Filippelli, a junior majoring in STEM education and biomathematics said. “That doesn’t mean you say whatever, but you shouldn’t live in fear that you’ll be in danger for your opinion.”
Filippelli said that students have the right to speak out and express their opinions, even in cases when it may be morally ambiguous.
After the Monday event of “free speech, free cookies,” the walls were placed in Evans library, allowing more students to continue to exercise their first amendment right throughout the remainder of the week.
Camila Alvarado, a junior majoring in chemical engineering and nanotechnology, has a positive outlook on the more controversial discussions written on the boards.
“It’s free speech, there will be no judgment,” Alvarado said. “It may be better for people to show their emotions and opinions in this way, then getting the emotions out in a bad or violent way.”
Free speech is a right that is guaranteed in the United States every day under the Constitution. As part of the first amendment, “we the people” have the right to own our voices.