Sidewalk ‘graffiti’ chalked up to fun, free speech

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This college’s journalism program and SPJ chapter will host Chalk Day for students to celebrate newspapers and First Amendment.

Courtney Kaiser

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Illustration by Alexandra Nelipa

Illustration by Alexandra Nelipa

National Newspaper Week will kick off Oct. 5 by continuing the tradition of Chalk Day, which gives students free chalk to express themselves by scribbling words and art on the ground around campus.

The brainchild of this college’s journalism program, the tradition started March 30, 2004, after some students using sidewalk chalk upset the former assistant director of student life, Gil Castillo, for not asking permission beforehand, said Irene Abrego, journalism instructor and adviser to The Ranger.

Chalk Day has since found its home on the Monday of National Newspaper Week, which is Oct. 4-10 this year.

Chalk Day will be 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday between Loftin Student Center and the chemistry and geology building.

It usually spreads from there to other walkways of campus, Abrego said.

Though the event honors free speech, students must still use good judgment and keep things clean and respectful, Abrego said.

She said she most enjoys “the surprise and diversity of the content.”

The event provides students a chance to express themselves through quotes, poetry, drawings or words.

Layne Bruce, executive director of the Mississippi Press Association and committee chairman of National Newspaper Week, said he has not heard of other colleges hosting chalk days to honor free speech.

But the timing and location are ideal, he said.

“It is the perfect time to underscore the importance of our First Amendment rights and how we should all exercise those freedoms,” Bruce said.

“College campuses across the nation are very important venues for discussion about freedom of the press and the right of free speech,” Bruce added.

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