EDITORIAL: Occupy FIU must reevaluate its demonstration methods

The development of a more unified student voice at FIU is a necessity.  Yet, with the recent arrest of seven attendants at the Occupy FIU Art and Music Festival, we must question the methods in which the movement chose to be heard.

The Beacon, an organization that prides itself on exercising the first amendment to the fullest extent, respects a student’s right to free speech, but there is a right way and a wrong way to exercise that right.

For a movement that has already worked the red tape of legalese of protest, the way the festival was handled was amateur at best.

As students, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are abiding by all rules and regulations, to be aware of where we are free to voice our opinions and what measures are needed to successfully get that message across.

The members of Occupy FIU were arrested because they did not observe the necessary channels to have an event at the Deuxième Maison pit.

While they claimed to have spoken to and received permission from the University Ombudsman Larry Lunsford, none of the members interviewed could recall him by name.  According to Lunsford, no permission–written or verbal–was given.

If verbal agreements are not valid in a formal business setting, a University setting is no different.   Before action is taken at any location on either campus, the necessary steps to guarantee permission need to be taken.

The members were unable to provide written documentation that they were permitted to have an event at DM. The DM pit is not a free speech zone, therefore event permits are required.  Although Occupy FIU held a teach-in at the pit last semester, the advertisement for this festival anticipated and ultimately attracted a large police presence.

We acknowledge that the designated free speech zones are not clearly marked and based on the Graham Center’s website, The Beacon discovered that the information regarding free speech zones is not disclosed.

However, this is not an excuse to push the limits as to what is and isn’t lawful assembly.

Although it is no excuse for a public institution the size of the University to not have its affairs in order in terms of student activism, it is the responsibility of the activist to educate himself on how to properly, and most effectively step up to the soap box.

In the University’s part, it is their job to be ready with options for students whenever they feel that they need to exercise their rights.

We understand that FIU is still a young university that lacks a lengthy history of campus activism. It is learning how to react to a new generation of students who are witnessing a unique social movement in other cities and university campuses that does not seem to be stopping anytime soon.

We all need to get use to the soapbox. But let’s make sure it’s okay to stand on it first.

8 Comments on "EDITORIAL: Occupy FIU must reevaluate its demonstration methods"

  1. Way to defend the establishment, Beacon. The fact is, there shouldn’t be “free speech zones” on campus — free speech should be guaranteed everywhere on campus.

  2. Occupy FIU should challenge the existence of free speech zones: http://thefire.org/article/11211.html

  3. Prem Lee Barbosa | January 18, 2012 at 11:06 PM | Reply

    Here the Beacon questions the legitimacy and necessity of all civil disobedience done on college campuses during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam epoch.

    Everyone speak when told to speak, and only about that which you are allowed to speak.

    • Viviana Aranzazu | January 20, 2012 at 7:29 PM | Reply

      That’s right. Be a drone who “ensures that we are abiding by
      all rules and regulations”. Don’t question anything, don’t protest, don’t disagree. Just sit in your cubicle and mind your own business.

  4. There are a lot of problems with this article, but I’ll leave at citing one. Verbal Agreements are valid in Florida. At least look up your facts once in a while. The Florida Bar will be happy to inform you as much.


  5.  This is a shameful moment for The Beacon. The editorial staff has thrown the students under the bus. As a former writer for this paper, I’m outraged that The Beacon would take such a condescending and cynical stance against student expression. The Beacon should be siding with the students. Who do you think led all the movements in history that created social justice? Administrations? Police? No, it took the gall of underpaid, and underprivileged students to challenge the status quo and protect free expression. This editorial does just the opposite. I was starting to feel bad that the tuition hikes, budget cuts, and loss of advertisers would hurt the student paper. However, The Beacon is its own worst enemy.

  6. Also, how where we “pushing the limits”?

    We went where we where told to go, and verbal agreements (as stated before) are valid. But we shouldn’t even need a verbal agreement. How would we even know if we are “pushing the limit” or not if we don’t even know what the limit is? This article is so contradictory and full of excuses. What a tool whoever wrote this is.

  7. Personally, I could give a rat’s patoot about the Occupy movement and whatever they were doing, but when administration starts talking about “designated free speech zones” I have a problem.  Last year, the administration saw fit to impose a rule which encroached on smoker’s rights via the smoking ban which abridges our rights as to what we put in our bodies while anywhere on campus. This ban includes our cars which are personal property. This opens a privacy issue which is both invasive and onerous. Now administration plans on further encroaching by creating free speech zones? Seriously? One doesn’t need a Venn diagram to understand that the direct implication of having a “free speech zone” is that everywhere else on campus not included in the “free speech zone” is not privy to the protections of the exercise of free speech (which on every level is laughable considering university policy does not trump the 1st Amendment of the Constitution). These are very dangerous and murky waters for the university to be treading in. That said, I read the press release by President Rosenberg and I do agree amplification devices that interupt the learning process in which I AM A STAKEHOLDER and have PAID FOR should not be allowed. I do however find it odd that when a bunch of grousing liberals do this, they are shut down… as opposed to the continued administrative support of our periodic visits from the Christian Right Wing nutjob who exercises his anti-feminist anti-semitic hate speech with his banner & megaphone while capturing the images of passing students without their warning or consent. What about the megaphones used by the Right Wing Christian anti-abortion people who set up a 15 foot tower of horrific images likening legalized abortion to the holocaust? Administration approved!  I have been around FIU longer than the average bear and find it very suspect how the rights of the right-wing agenda seem to be highly protected by the university while the left wing seems to be roadblocked and subject to COINTELPRO scrutiny.  The egalitarian protection of free speech really isn’t encouraged at the university and when it comes to editorialism, the Beacon is nothing more than an instrument of obsequious cowering flattery tantamount to Nimrod’s horn….and to illustrate this point, I will bet this opinion will be removed form the forum as “inappropriate or offensive content” by tonight’s Gradskeller. Cheers. If you need me, I’ll be drinking a Jameson and Coke while smoking in a secluded gazebo somewhere on campus. Civil disobedience- if it was good enough for Thoreau, it is good enough for me.              

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