The Free Speech Area is the area of the CSU Chico campus which is specifically designated for free expression (music, art, forums, debates, ranting, etc.)
The Free Speech Area exists to facilitate the exercise of free speech on campus. Toward this end, the University Speech and Advocacy Board has established a policy called the Guidelines for Speech and Advocacy, and has placed administration of the area under the authority of the Student Activities Office.
The existence of the FSA is not intended to imply that the entire campus is not a free speech area. The designation of this area is supposed to facilitate the reservation of the area for planned events. This does not preclude the extempoaneous event being held. However, the reservation for a planned event takes precidence over any extemporaneous event.
The Free Speech Area has been the scene of many musical events, speeches, demonstrations, preachers, election forums, etcetera. The area has hosted Cinco de Mayo celebrations, the St Patrick's Day Flapjack Feed and Shamrock Shuffle, and the Womens Center's Take Back The Night and Breaking the Silence.
Other events that have occurred in the FSA
- April 1970 - Students at an event advocating alternative transportation disassembled a car and pushed it into First Street. At that time First Street was Highway 32 with heavy traffic running right through campus. In support, several people endeavored to repeatedly cross the street blocking the rest of traffic. The Chico 15 were charged with conspiracy to jaywalk —a felony. In the end all charges were dropped and the street was closed soon afterward.
- October 1997 - A Tent City was established to support Measure A a Chico school bond. The Progressive Student Union camped out for a week in inclement weather before the election to draw attention to the only issue on the ballot. The PSU erected a mock school and a mock prison at either sides of the Free Sppech Area to demonstrate the choice between Education and Incarceration.
- September and October 1998 - Another Tent City was established. The PSU held two campouts this year. The first was held for one week leading up to the deadline to register to vote in September, and a second one for a week leading up to the general election. This was the year that the PSU, the Student Democrats, MEChA and the Chico Cannabis Coalition all banded together as Activists Against Apathy to encourage voter turnout on issues like Proposition 209 and Proposition 215.
- The Church of the SubGenius held the Spiritual Power Hour, an open forum for religious topics. Speakers included the Reverend Chaos Gerbil, the Prophet Paul Peter, and the Nun of the Above.
- Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, an itinerant Christian activist group, was thrown off the lawn for "disrupting" a Womens Center event Breaking the Silence with disturbing posters of aborted fetuses. The Orion newspaper was slammed for running a story on the incident with a photo containing the disturbing pictures on the front page.
- April 2000 - Christians on Campus, a coalition of 6 groups, sponsored a reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus, complete with Roman soldiers and a bloody messiah.
- March 2001 - 80s pop star Tiffany throws a free concert in the FSA to promote her new album.
- April 2001. Christian groups start the Do You Agree With Rich? campaign, which culminates in Rich Thompson's testimonial about how God changed his life in the FSA.
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