Bahr: Chalking on campus should not be defaced


Pro-life messages like the one above were chalked around campus by Students for Life. The messages were soon altered to pro-choice arguments by groups disagreeing with them.

Connor Bahr

Amid voting seasons at Iowa State, chalk becomes a weapon for politically active students wishing to spread their message to all who walk along the sidewalks. This is great to see among students because it means they care about who represents them, and they want to make their voice heard.

However, it is obvious when one is writing politically, there are going to be others who disagree. This results in many of the chalk writings getting defaced and written over. This needs to stop for two reasons: defacing the chalk markings is infringing on other students’ free speech and it also makes ones argument look less legit and possibly more violent.

Last November, the sidewalks were lined top to bottom with political writings, many about abortion and Steve King. Once again, chalks messages have popped up around campus. These, however, seem to focus on abortion alone. Many saying, “Pro-life, Pro-Woman.”

Within a day of these messages appearing, I personally have seen one almost completely erased by water. This heavily echoes last years “chalk wars,” during which I counted nine chalk messages blurred out, written over or washed off during a walk from UDCC to the Library. Last year this escalated so far to the point where The Daily reported on the incident.

From what I can gather, the rules for chalking the sidewalk are pretty simple. Don’t chalk under overhangs so that the weather can wash it away eventually, don’t chalk anywhere on Memorial Union grounds and make sure that the chalk is informative and/or political. Any chalk that follows the rules is fair game, and should not be removed or defaced. This goes for students, and the administration.

I specifically mention the administration because of the “It’s ok to be white” posters and chalk that were put up around the same time last year. The posters were taken down almost immediately and the chalk was put under investigation. I believe this is quite the overstep on the administrations part, as the administration should not endorse or oppose political views.  

Trying to silence the opposition by crossing out their chalk marks will make your side seem desperate and violent. If you really feel strongly against some chalk mark, get some chalk and do some writing of your own.

The sidewalks will continue to be littered with political rhetoric here at Iowa State, but this is a good thing. It shows that the community of students here is active in the community, but we can’t allow students to erase the writings of others, as that infringes on their free speech.

If you disagree with something written on the sidewalks, you should absolutely find a way to make your voice heard. This sort of political back and forth will move the community together as a whole. Especially in this day and age, that is something that is desperately needed. I think we can all work together to make Iowa State a place where all voices can be heard without fear.