Students give away First Amendment rights for food

Senior Pauline Delva came to the School of Communication Common Ground Courtyard Tuesday for a free lunch. Just as she sat down to eat, she was told that she had signed away her First Amendment rights.


Delva got up and left. “If we had known, we wouldn’t have come in here, especially if we didn’t want to give up our First Amendment rights,” she said after getting up and leaving.

The “Free Lunch” event, co-sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists and The Miami Hurricane, was intended to show students the importance of free speech. Before entering the courtyard, students were required to sign a contract, giving up their First Amendment rights.

“It is a whimsical way to give students a taste of what it’s like to not be in control of what you can speak about and who you can sit with, essentially the freedoms of speech and assembly,” Sallie Hughes, SPJ advisor, said.

SPJ President Dani McNally said about 200 students signed away their rights, but many had mixed reactions.

“Some people are complaining and some people signed it and didn’t really know what they were doing, but mostly I think people are having a good time with it,” she said. SPJ “bouncers,” who were in charge of enforcing the lack of First Amendment rights, told sophomore Troy Kurtz that he was only allowed to talk about Billy Idol while he was eating.

“At first I was a little skeptical, but I thought I would live on the edge and try it out,” Kurtz said. “Billy is a great guy. He had some classic songs and really I didn’t mind jamming it out while having some pizza.”

Karunya Krishnan may be contacted at