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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Free speech at issue on the Mall

    Frank Gray, 63, from Tucson, left, asks for an e-mail address from psychology sophomore David Waugh-Breiger to organize for getting a proposition to decriminalize possessing an ounce or less of marijuana on the Arizona election ballot.
    Frank Gray, 63, from Tucson, left, asks for an e-mail address from psychology sophomore David Waugh-Breiger to organize for getting a proposition to decriminalize possessing an ounce or less of marijuana on the Arizona election ballot.

    Freedom of speech, supported by the first amendment, is exercised daily on campus. Religious and political demonstrations, especially around the UA Mall, raise questions about respect and tolerance, both among students and speakers.

    “”This is kinda like my spiritual birth home,”” Monte Botts, 61, said. “”I gave my life to the Lord Jesus back in ’77 in Tucson, when I was traveling back to Oregon, my home state.””

    Botts refers to himself as a “”servant of the most high.”” He preaches on the UA Mall Monday through Friday.

    He can be seen holding a sign up for hours on end and is usually spotted with his dog.

    “”Sarah, my pooch, she usually gets a lot more of the positive strokes, I get the negative ones,”” he said. “”We balance one another out.””

    Rebecca Schotz, a retail and consumer science junior, said that it is not necessary to have religious preachers visit the UA.

    “”It’s obnoxious,”” Schotz said. “”I don’t feel like constantly preaching your religion is appropriate to do on campus.””

    She said people are trying to get to class and it makes a lot of students who don’t have the same religious beliefs feel uncomfortable.

    “”We can regulate speech in time, place and manner, we cannot regulate what someone says,”” said Keith Humphrey, associate dean of students and interim director of LGBTQ affairs.

    Things said under the guise of free speech could sometimes be offensive to people and Humphrey said there are students who from time to time will complain. But he tells them it is freedom of speech and nothing can be done.

    “”Campus is a free speech zone and a public institution,”” Humphrey said.

    As long as an area on the mall is not reserved, a preacher is allowed to talk, he said.

    Frank Grey, 63, has been on campus outside the Student Union Memorial Center’s food court for the past several days in an attempt raise awareness for the decriminalization of marijuana.

    “”I did a year in Florence prison (in Arizona) for one joint,”” he said.

    Grey said he works on political petitions and helps out with the Federal Communications Commission all over the country.

    “”There are a lot of people who don’t smoke marijuana, that don’t feel that other people should have to lose an opportunity for a career especially going to college, all over a felony charge for something that’s totally ridiculous, “” Gary said.

    Musical theater sophomore Clay McInerney, supports freedom of speech on campus and believes that people should profess their views, but recognizes that some protesters tend to be aggressive and said he could understand why it might be bothersome to some students.

    Joel Kanter, a Judaic studies sophomore, said petitioners and preachers are wasting their time because some things will never change.

    “”I don’t see the issue ever being resolved,”” Kanter said. “”I don’t see any purpose in him getting signatures and sitting outside the food court for hours.””

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