Protest is boiling on college campuses and each seems to have its go-to spot for exercising those First Amendment rights of speech, assembly and petition.
At Michigan State University, that place is The Rock on Bogue Street next to the Red Cedar River. Organizations can paint slogans and messages on the landmark and people often group around it.For examples, students recently painted “no ban, no wall” on the rock as a protest against President Donald Trump’s ban on seven majority-Muslim countries and his plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.
For students to plan protests or events at The Rock, or anywhere on campus, it has to be registered with Student Services. Organizers can do this by completing an activity planning form.
“All registered student organizations have access to a website called Community,” said Kassidy Belcher, a clerical assistant at student services. “At the beginning of the year, groups register and then they can request events.”
This process applies to all events, Belcher said, whether students need outdoor space or want to meet in a classroom.
The MSU Rock is public property but “the space around The Rock” is not, Belcher said. Therefore students must register events and protests at The Rock through student services.
Safety plays a big part in rallies and protests.
Officer Britten Riggs of the Michigan State University Police Department manages the “green-coats:” police officers who direct traffic and provide security to campus events.
Police are sometimes present at events at The Rock, though it depends on the type of event and how many people are there, said Riggs.
“We have a social media analyst and they monitor and determine if there’s a need for security at different types of rallies,” Riggs said.
Through these guidelines, students have the ability to exercise their rights to peaceably assemble and petition against grievances, with the MSU Rock providing a literal platform on which to do so.