Chico State Republicans build a wall to promote free speech


Emily Neria

Michael Curry president of the Chico State College Republicans and of the Chico State Students for Trump poses with the “free speech wall” constructed by himself and other members of the group.

The Chico State Republicans booth invited passersby to write messages on a “free speech wall” on Thursday. The wall was accompanied by a sign that read “we built a wall” in reference to the wall President Trump has suggested building along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. 

Michael Curry, president of the Chico State Republicans and member of the Chico State Students for Trump, describes the situation in his own words.

“Some people have written their Venmo’s on here, which is really funny,” Curry said. “Some people put their social media handles. Some people just leave a positive message for other students.”

The goal of the wall is to promote free speech on campus, according to Curry.

“A lot of people make political messages; a lot of people are very profane in how they do it, and that’s all allowed by freedom of speech,” Curry said. “We want to make sure that that idea is shared with all students on campus. Freedom of speech allows you to have your opinion, to say what you truly believe in.” 

The free speech wall is a response to the hostility and animosity the Chico State Republicans have experienced on campus in recent months. 

“We were surrounded by around four hundred students at once at one point and they were trying to shut us down, trying to get us off campus, telling us that our ideas are not welcome here,” Curry said. “A lot of the ideas that we have are actually very bi-partisan – shared by a majority of people – and a lot of people just don’t like hearing that.”

One student who had a reaction to the free speech wall was Marilyn Sandoval. A daughter of Mexican immigrants, Sandoval saw the wall as a display of hatred. She wrote on the wall: 

“It took my parents 20 years to get here legally. Some people do not have that option.” 

Sandoval also added her activist Instagram profile, as did many immigration activists upset by the wall. 

“I live right next to the border; there’s already a fence,” Sandoval said in response to an immigration comment on the free speech wall. “There’s always been a fence – my whole life. Sixty-two percent of undocumented workers have overstayed visas.” 

She said that sharing this information with the club members at the Republican booth did not change their opinions about the need for a border wall. 

“Freedom of speech protects everybody. It protects people you love, it protects people you hate,” Curry said in response to students who were uncomfortable with comments on the wall. “If you have a political message, you are virtually always allowed to say it. A message promoting one of the major political parties of the United States is supported by the First Amendment.” 

Emily Neria can be reached at [email protected] or @NeriaEmily on Twitter.