Journalism program hosts annual event to celebrate free speech.
By Ryan A. Flournoy
Inspired by a great weekend with his little boy, kinesiology sophomore Felix Hernandez chalked the word “LOVE” onto a campus walkway Monday morning.
Hernandez, who has always loved to draw, used artistic methods of shading and colors like blue, orange and yellow. He also shaped the “O” into a heart.
“There was a lot of love this weekend, spending time with my 3-year-old son,” he said. “Everybody should believe in love; it’s as easy as a smile.”
Like other students, he participated in Chalk Day, the journalism program’s annual event that celebrates free speech, freedom of expression and the first day of National Newspaper Week.
Journalism students handed out pieces of colored chalk to passersby for expressing themselves on the sidewalk between Loftin Student Center and the chemistry and geology building. Each chalk bin displayed a sign: “Chalk is Cheap; free speech isn’t.”
All along the sidewalk were land mines of bent-over students zeroed in on their chalk art, making it impossible to walk through without stepping around someone.
Occasionally a student would pop up only to take a few steps back and peer upon his or her craft for a different perspective or a change of color.
Many students were just walking their normal path to class when they decided to contribute to the cause.
“A lot of people need positive influence,” said biology freshman Anjali Patel, an admirer of the artwork. “We are very fortunate to express ourselves freely.”
While many chose to inspire with written messages, others were prompted to visualize their freedom of expression.
Art sophomore Dante Dipasquale crafted a detailed, lifelike hand with two fingers in a “V” sign of peace.
“The peace sign is a universal symbol that everybody can identify with,” said Dipasquale.
He concluded his drawing of the “peace hand” with the words “All Ends Well’ parallel to the hand.
“It allows people to gather their own opinion about the piece and how it may relate to them,” Dipasquale said.
Other pieces of art were not so much inspiring as they were thought provoking.
Kinesiology freshman Michelle Delgado and construction sophomore James Nicholson had never met before Monday.
But they briefly bonded over the sidewalk graffiti, the First Amendment and their mutual belief in the humane treatment of animals.
Delgado wrote “Stop Murdering Animals” in bold outlined chalk, which stood out among its surrounding artwork in the center of the walkway.
Since learning about cruelty to animals in the meat packing industry, Delgado has been vegetarian since July.
“It’s murder,” Delgado said about the business behind the meat people buy and eat.
She was determined to exercise her freedom of speech with her giant message advocating against factory farm meat industries, hoping to raise awareness for animal cruelty.
Nicholson incorporated drawings of farm animals such as a pig, cow and chicken around the bold words, adding imagery to the message.
Chalk Day represents more than National Newspaper Week; its purpose is to celebrate freedom of speech and expression.
The First Amendment is the foundation of journalism, and its history is embedded in each journalist who has ever attempted to cover a story they believe needs to be heard.
“Journalism goes far beyond newspaper,” said Marianne Odom, chair of the media communications department.
“Information will always need to be reported to the public and therefore we will always need journalism.”