New soapbox to be venue for free student expression

On Tuesday, the University of Miami’s School of Communication debuted its Common Ground Courtyard Soapbox, a wooden box that members of the UM community can step on to and speak their mind.

From noon to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the rest of the fall semester, students, staff or faculty can step onto the box and share their thoughts on any subject. Speakers will be allowed to say whatever they want, given that they follow standard university policy for public demonstrations and speech. No microphones or speakers will be used to amplify sound; participants will be restricted to bringing only what they can hold while on the soap box.

Sam Grogg, dean of the School of Communication, said in a message to SoC members earlier this week that the box is intended to promote the “First Amendment freedoms of the press, speech and belief.” Grogg encouraged everyone to take the opportunity to voice his or her beliefs, thoughts or ideas on any topic they feel strongly about.

Some SoC students, however, are unconvinced the box really will accomplish its goals.

“I’m not sure this is the right way to promote freedom of expression. I mean, first of all, who’s going to be listening? And if I was studying in the courtyard and someone was ‘expressing their opinion’ in the background, I’d be distracted and a little annoyed,” said junior Zach Woodward, a visual journalism major.