Annual Chalk Day began with a scolding and continues with the freedom to express yourself with chalk graffiti.
by Amanda K. Tetens
In March 2004, Gil Castillo, former assistant director of student life, caught students drawing with chalk on the brick walkways west of Moody Learning Center.
He was upset; not about the artwork, but that they did not ask for permission. Little did Castillo know he was starting a tradition at this college by asking these students to stop what they were up to.
This was the birth of Chalk Day. The tradition continues from 10 a.m. – noon Monday, giving participants the chance to celebrate free speech by scribbling, drawing and writing with chalk on the mall walkway.
Castillo’s actions inspired The Ranger to write an editorial announcing Chalk Day for students to express their First Amendment rights, said journalism instructor Irene Abrego.
The department and the student organization, Society of Professional Journalists, sponsor the annual event, which corresponds with National Newspaper Week. Students can write or draw what they think and feel – poetry, quotes, sketches, song lyrics – as long as it is kept clean.
“This is a college, and I think everyone’s vocabulary should be good enough so they can say what they mean without relying on vulgarity or obscenities,” Abrego said about the only rules of the event. “No writing on the walls and keep all expressions to the mall.”
Abrego, who has a sign in her office that reads, “Chalk is cheap, free speech isn’t,” said anyone can participate, and she has supported Chalk Day since day one, when the idea was originally questioned.
“Most who support the event feel it doesn’t cause any permanent harm and will be gone with the next rain,” Abrego said.