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Freedom of Expression

Freedom of Expression

Asking WWU Students if They Feel Free to Express Their Beliefs 

By Jessi Vietz 

Freedom of speech is an unarguably important aspect of life. So important in fact, that it is written in the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In 1969 the Supreme Court ruled that students of all types do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” [1]  

While many students feel they have full liberty to express themselves, some students on the Walla Walla University campus do not feel that they have the ability to express their thoughts, their beliefs, or even their identity.  

In an interview with Analizeth Castillo, sophomore psychology major, she stated that she feels she is free to express her values to peers who share the same values, or to people who are interested in a “friendly debate or open to a new perspective.” [2] 

Photo from Analizeth Castillo.

The extent of this freedom she feels is when she is speaking to a large group of people or with people she is not familiar with. “Expression of values and ideals becomes quite complicated because no one wanted to offend anyone else,” she said while explaining how it can be easy to unintentionally offend someone else just by having differing opinions. [3] 

A second sophomore psychology major, Rory O’Neal, stated that they feel mostly free to express themselves on campus but feel a need to hold back at the same time. “As someone who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, I have to recognize that not everyone will like who I am,” they explained, “I need to prepare myself for the kickback if I feel like I want to fully express myself on campus.” [4] 

Photo from Rory O’Neal.

Yasha Moskaltes, sophomore automotive management major, feels that he is free to express himself on campus because WWU is a friendly community. “Although many may not agree with my personal views religiously, many are understanding that not everyone will have their same beliefs.” [5] 

Photo from Yasha Moskalets. 

Vinicius Cardoso, a freshman business administration and finance major, feels that he does have freedom to express himself on campus. Even though he struggles with English because it is not his primary language, he finds there are a lot of people on campus who can relate which makes him feel confident to express himself. [6] 

Photo from Vinicius Cardoso.

Davis Nordby, a junior automotive service major, does not consider himself a very outspoken person, however, he feels that the views he holds do not seem to be expressed on campus. “A lot of the speakers I have seen who talk about non-religious things seem to be more of the progressive liberal side.” [7] 

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Photo from Davis Nordby.

He also remembers a speaker during CommUnity who spoke on “white male evangelicals” which Nordby felt was in a very opinionated way with no evidence on the subject or any kind of discussion with the students about their beliefs. “Ideas are said and never challenged or even a counter view shown,” said Nordby, “there is sometimes a politically one-sided approach to things when it comes to certain topics. Students should make an educated decision for themselves, what they want to believe.” [8] 

Jack Shannon, a senior elementary education major and special education minor, does not really feel free to express himself. “Being LGBTQ+ isn’t accepted by the administration, and while most students here are accepting, there’s others that aren’t.” He even recounted a time that someone carved a derogatory word on his door when he was first coming out at WWU. [9] 

Photo from Jack Shannon.

References 

  1. Students’ rights. Know Your Rights | American Civil Liberties Union. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/students-rights/ 
  1. Interview with Analizeth Castillo, 3/28/22. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Interview with Rory O’Neal, 3/28/22. 
  1. Interview with Yasha Moskalets, 3/28/22. 
  1. Interview with Vinicius Cardoso, 3/28/22. 
  1. Interview with Davis Nordby, 3/29/22. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Interview with Jack Shannon, 3/29/22. 

Photos 

  1. Photo of a Walla Walla University student at the talent show, by Abigail Lombard. 
  1. Photo from Analizeth Castillo. 
  1. Photo from Rory O’Neal. 
  1. Photo from Yasha Moskalets. 
  1. Photo from Vinicius Cardoso. 
  1. Photo from Davis Nordby. 
  1. Photo from Jack Shannon. 
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