Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Eat free or live free

“Don’t listen to them!” shouted a protester, “If you want to sit somewhere, sit with your friends!”

Michael Miller, senior and economics major at FAU, ended up being thrown into a makeshift jail for this act at the First Amendment Free Food Festival on Monday, Oct. 10, behind the FAU Boca campus Student Union.

The event, which attracted about 250 students, was organized and sponsored by Student Government and the UP as a demonstration educating students on the importance of their First Amendment rights, which include the freedom of religion, speech and peaceful assembly as well as the right to petition the government.

The promise of free food attracted a lot of students, but most had no idea that upon entering and signing a form, they were temporarily waiving all of their basic rights. They even received a passport stating they were in the Kingdom of the Socialist States of the People’s Republic, which informed them of the rights they no longer had.

A goon squad holding sticks and shields that said, “Eat free or live free! You can’t do both!” carefully patrolled the area, searching for anyone not following the rules. They immediately separated any group of two or more people.

Students were thrown in a jail made of plastic pipes for protesting in any way, or even expressing preference for one food over another at the food table. Artah Salour, a junior and Biology major, asked for one sandwich and was given the opposite.

“I had to do 5 push-ups to get the chicken sandwich I wanted,” he said, “and they said I have to keep doing push-ups if I want to get what I ask for.”

Some students were content with following orders as long as they received their complimentary meals, while others missed their rights and were appalled.

“It is unacceptable to make people give up their rights for free food,” said freshman Marco Aletto. “It goes against what this country was founded on.”

The event had its hints of humor, with its outlandish rules and students dressed as law enforcers who chased “rebels” around with sticks. But, in spite of this, there was a method to the madness.

“The best way to reach students is through their stomachs,” said Michele Boyet, Vice President of the Society of Professional Journalists and a former UP Editor-in-Chief. “They learn about their First Amendment rights in class, but it’s not until they’re actually taken away that they get the idea.”

Boyet originally came up with the idea in 2006 with the UP’s volunteer adviser, Michael Koretzky, as a way to celebrate Constitution Day, which commemorates the formation and signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. Federal mandates require public educational institutions to observe the day.

Since then, the idea has been used at more than 30 schools across the country and several schools in Florida, including colleges, high schools and even middle schools. The biggest turnout was at Georgia Southern University, where 720 people attended.

Even though it was a short and temporary display, the event at FAU gave students a bitter taste of what reality would be like without their rights.

“I felt totally violated,” said Cassie Croker, a freshman Special Education major, about being stripped of all her basic freedoms. “But it was a good way of showing what it would be like to live in a place where you can’t have everything you want.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Do you have something to say? Submit your comments below
All UNIVERSITY PRESS Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *