More than 200 UW-Eau Claire students temporarily gave up their First Amendment rights on Wednesday, in trade for some free pizza.
The tradeoff was the key component in the annual First Amendment Free Food Festival presented by the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). The event is designed to raise awareness of First Amendment freedoms.
The food was available only to those who signed away their First Amendment rights in order to enter an enclosed area on campus dubbed “Freelandia.” Once inside, they were served pizza but they also were hassled in ways designed to make them aware of the rights they temporarily relinquished.
For example, some were ordered not to speak, because they had signed away their freedom of speech. Others were isolated from friends because they had no longer had the right to assemble freely.
Signs scattered around the enclosure provided examples of the other First Amendment rights that were given up: the freedoms of the press and of religion, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Only when they left the enclosed “Freelandia” area did the students regain those five First Amendment freedoms.
Kiri Salinas, president of the SPJ chapter, said that “this year’s First Amendment Free Food Festival went better than expected. Over 200 people participated in the event, which I find amazing because that means we taught over 200 people why having our First Amendment rights is such a privilege.”
Pizza for the event was donated by Toppers. Other co-sponsors were the UW-EC Department of Communication and Journalism; the Chippewa Valley chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union; WUEC; WQOW-TV; and The Spectator, the university’s student newspaper.