Free-speech rally planned for today

By Kevin Wick

A rally for free speech is planned for today in the free speech zone, located between the MLK Commons and the Holmes Student Center bus turnaround.

The rally – lead by the Labor Rights Alliance, the Women’s Alliance and NIU kitchen helpers — will protest NIU’s policy to designate any free speech action solely to the free-speech zone. It will begin at 1:30 p.m.

University Police have the authority to arrest protesters if they are outside of the free speech zone.

Limiting protesting to the zone is a violation of free speech and has been deemed illegal in court in many cases similar to this one, said Karl Huck, a graduate student in the history department and secretary of the Labor Rights Alliance.

Marching will begin at the free speech zone and will mark off the boundaries of the zone so that students can identify where it is located.

The groups plan to fill the free speech zone to capacity in order to see how many students can fit in the area at a time.

“We’re estimating that about one percent of NIU’s population will be able to fit,” Huck said.

The protesters will then march from the free speech zone to DuSable Hall to collect signatures.

“We already have several hundred signatures,” Huck said. “However, we’re still trying to get a lot more.”

After the protesters have collected enough signatures, they will march to Altgeld Hall to present them to NIU President John Peters.

“We hope the signatures will draw attention to the issue and persuade [NIU] to get rid of the policy,” Huck said.

Banners will be put up around campus letting students know about the rally and the groups also will collect signatures from students who wish to participate.