Free speech area renamed

Students walk through the Free Speech Area in front of The Bucket Grill & Pub in between classes on Aug. 21, 2014. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)

In an effort to clear up confusion about free speech on campus, Fresno State could soon change the name of its Free Speech Area.

“We are thinking of changing the name to Union Square,” said Josh Edrington, student involvement club and organization coordinator.

“In a sense, it almost seemed like we are containing free speech to one centralized area on campus,” Edrington said.

With the name change, Edrington believes it will be easier to see that there is more than just one area where free speech is allowed on campus.

“In a public institution, free speech is anywhere as long as it’s not disrupting the academic mission of the university,” he said.

Edrington added that the potential name change is also a result of the CSU stepping up its effort to protect free speech at its campuses.

“There’s a bigger picture coming out of the chancellor’s office,” Edrington said. “It deals with all the CSU campuses, because all 23 CSU campuses are public institutions. There’s a new policy that is coming out that speaks to free speech.”

Union Square would be defined as the walkway beginning from Taco Bell and west to where the University Center ends creating an L shape, Edrington said.

Fresno State is also looking to add space for events and speeches in front of The Bucket, where there are currently chairs and tables.

“We will have spaces where you can go set up your table or popup tents,” Edrington said. “If you have an event or a message you want to say, you can make a reservation in our office for the space.”

The space has been organized to ease the walkway area near the Taco Bell and The Bucket, he said.

“With the new plan, popup tents will be placed where there is enough space and will not impede walkways,” he said. “Tables will be put in designated places, keeping walkways and fire ways in mind.”

For people who reserve a space, Edrington said the new plan is a huge benefit.

“A lot of the times, five people show up at the same time and want to be in the same place,” Edrington said. “You can have a guaranteed space with a reservation.”

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