Sidewalk chalk creates issues with some students

Daysha Blackwell, ophomore psychology and sociology major and member of NIU Campus Crusade for Christ and Jesus is the Way Christian Center, speaks with Thomas Hodges about religious views Thursday afternoon near Neptune Central.

By Taylor Thanos

Sidewalk chalk has become a growing popularity in advertising for clubs and events at NIU.

One of the most talked about and controversial of these concrete arts is the message, “There are probably no gods,” a phrase adopted by the NIU organization, Atheists, Agnostics and Freethinkers (AAFT).

AAFT President Christopher George, junior history and philosophy major, explained where the phrase originated.

“The phrase came from a relatively benign advertisement campaign over in Britain, maybe two years ago,” he said. “There was a group that would put that slogan on buses over there, and eventually it came here.”

This is the first year the group has used the quote to promote and advertise AAFT. The reactions of NIU have been mixed. Some students feel the quote is offensive to their own religious beliefs.

“It’s bothersome, of course,” said junior journalism major Lauren Scott. “We would never try to disrespect their beliefs.”

Scott, a member of Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) went on to say that even though it does catch attention of passersby, there is no further information about the group or who they are.

“All in all, it is a bad advertisement tool,” Scott said.

Other NIU students that are not affiliated with religious groups on campus share Scott’s opinion. Travis Harrell, freshman music business major, goes to church regularly and said he feels he has somewhat strong religious beliefs.

“I thought the quotes were inappropriate,” Harrell said. “I felt my own religious beliefs were being disrespected.”

Many responses to the AAFT motto appeared chalked around campus near the early weeks of the month. Messages such proclaiming the existence of a god and saying that “probably is not a good enough reason” are some of the responses. It is unknown whether the responses were sponsored by a Christian group on campus.

Although many disagree with the sidewalk chalk, the organization has not seemed to be affected.

“In my two years with the group I have never seen so many people join a meeting,” George said on AAFT’s first meeting of the year on Sept. 8.

The AAFT’s main goal is to provide a safe place for people to question and to help others.

“Some people are very offended by the chalking and alter them, which ultimately are not relevant,” George said. “Several professors have thanked us for existing, past NIU students have joined the Facebook group and also expressed their wish that this group had existed when they came here.”