Hi, Pepperdine. It’s us again. The Graphic staff reminding you what the Freedom Wall means on campus.
This isn’t a new conversation we’re having — in fact, it’s one we revisit every few years. But the revolving door of academia warrants constant discussion and renewal of tradition, so allow us to reintroduce you to one of Pepperdine’s sacred spaces: the Freedom Wall.
Located outside the TCC, next to the entrance of the bookstore and a stone’s throw from the Caf, the Freedom Wall is — at its core — a cork board with a few pieces of context across the top and sides of the board.
The header reads, “Pepperdine University affirms that truth, having nothing to fear from investigation, should be pursued relentlessly in every discipline … and that freedom, whether spiritual, intellectual, or economic, is indivisible.”
The board, according to past Graphic reporting, began in 2003 — thanks to the then-SGA president. The Freedom Wall is also cited in Pepperdine’s Student Organizations Handbook as “governed by the principle that speaking freely in a participatory democracy must be done with responsibility.”
Over the years, Pepperdine has seen a plethora of debates and challenges — everything from HRL staffing, to Chick-fil-A on campus, to diversity in University leadership, to disability and accessibility rights, to the Pepperdine Volunteer Center closure, to Turning Point USA.
More recently, the University administrators said they’re reviewing guidelines following abortion-related postings on the Freedom Wall, receiving guidance from the Student Government Association and their legal team, among others.
The Graphic wasn’t included in this fine list of reviewers, but we’d like to add our take on how the Pepperdine community should honor and respect the Freedom Wall.
So, let’s break down what the Freedom Wall is and isn’t.
#1 – The Freedom Wall is for (nearly) everything
Whether your contribution is humorous, serious, political or personal, the Freedom Wall is a space for you to say what you need to say.
However, the Freedom Wall, as outlined by Inter-Club Council’s poster hanging guidelines, is exempt from club advertising. Clubs should not use the wall to promote their events or advertise their merch.
While this isn’t an explicit rule, the Graphic staff also believe the Freedom Wall should not be a space for bullying, public disparagement or hate speech.
#2 – The Freedom Wall is for everyone
The Freedom Wall’s intent is to allow individuals to highlight and discuss issues that matter to them. Whether those individuals are students, staff, faculty or alumni, everyone should continue to respect this space for sharing.
#3 – Post over, post around, don’t take down
Taking down posts is a general no-no. Display sizing may not allow for adequate rebuttal space, but each community member should steward a spirit of conversation with how they engage with the wall.
As we wrote in 2017, “Writing over and defacing opposing views is an unacceptable use of The Freedom Wall, no matter who posted what.” Be respectful of the views shared —there’s a valued member of the Pepperdine community behind them.
We’ll add a caveat to this idea, though — infringing on the display is not vandalism, just like posting is not vandalism. DPS is not obligated to react if someone doesn’t agree with you.
#4 – Move discussion off the Wall
Sure, sometimes the Freedom Wall says silly things (we’re sorry your washer is broken, Fifield House). But, most often, it raises healthy discussion among community members, especially when it relates to Pepperdine-specific events and problems (again, we’re sorry your washer is broken, Fifield).
Engaging with the wall could mean talking about it in class, sharing your thoughts with peers in the Caf or writing a Letter to the Editor for the Graphic.
The Freedom Wall is an open space that continues to shape our community discussions and has been around for many of Pepperdine’s biggest debates; however, respect and truth should always center every conversation.
Whatever your thoughts may be, whatever sentiments you want to share, it is up to us as Pepperdine community members to preserve the heart of the Freedom Wall and continue to use it for sharing the truth.
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