UW Students know well the tried and true tradition of finally finding a toilet not covered in fluids, taking a seat, and letting the eloquent graffiti upon the walls of the bathroom stall take you on a journey of poopers past. They’re spread across in all manner of fonts, colors, and grammatical abilities. But with the newly leaked UW Freedom of Expression Policy, have those inscriptions stalls met their final hour?
The UW Board of Regents will be tackling a familiar issue – free speech – in its meeting this week, with their new Freedom of Expression Policy. A leak of the policy earlier this week (because apparently they’re powerful enough to have leakers) reveals new punishments for students who disrupt speakers, particularly controversial ones, resembling similar legislation in Wisconsin’s State Senate.
The legislation comes after an incident about a year ago, when known conservative speaker, Ben Shapiro, visited UW and was met with protests in the lecture hall. With the new policy in place, students with the audacity to speak up against speakers on campus they disagree with will be subject to suspension for a semester, and expulsion if they have the balls and stupidity to do and it be caught three times. It’s good to see that the universal three strikes and you’re out standard still applies.
But not all students are just worried about what the new policy will do to their right to protest. Fifth year Badger, Brandon Huff, realizes where the true threat lies with the proposed legislation. “They better not even think about touching my masterpiece!” he cried, referring to his masterpiece of an amalgam of writings and crude drawings that he’s constructed in his favorite stall, third one down in the Psychology Building’s basement.
The topic of free speech is therefore an especially poignant one with Huff, as he’s been working on his magnum opus for the majority of his time at Madison, and worries that the new Freedom of Expression Policy will start with punishing protestors, but eventually lead to his own suspension for his use of the first amendment.
“It’s honestly the best way to express my opinions – people are out there protesting and shouting and screaming, but they get shouted back at. Here in this stall, writing things like ‘ur tiny dik is weird lol’ or ‘fuck Paul Ryan in his tiny butthole,’ all I hear are the rough shits around me,” Huff explained quite proudly. To his credit, Huff isn’t a one-hit-wonder, and his work is spread around various other bathrooms, but finds that they’ve stayed the longest in the Psychology Building.
The longevity of Huff’s work in the Psychology Building is confirmed by the building’s custodian, Ben Bratton. “I’m a big fan of his work,” he said. “Don’t tell him though, don’t want him thinking I’m weird or anything.”
Huff has been quite successful in his use of free speech, and one can only hope that the campus doesn’t go after his method of expression next. It is a treasure of our democracy after all, to sit down in a bathroom and pass the time by not scrolling through Facebook, but rather writing your roommate’s number and indicating they are the contact person for a, “good time.” If the university values speakers with controversial opinions so much, then they’d better value and protect the controversial graffiti even more.
If not, they risk being called out in Huff’s future works. “I feel like the influence of my work can really impact those who decide to shit there,” he concluded. We hope so too, Brandon. We hope so too.
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