By Guest Blogger Darcy L. Accardi, Towson University
This fall, after months of hard work, Towson University unveiled its new Freedom Square. On Friday, September 17th Towson launched a new space and initiative to actively engage students in their community, government, and environment. Freedom Square is a space in the middle of Towson’s campus dedicated to civic engagement activities. The space is equipped with electrical outlets, sitting areas, a public forum area, and two chalk boards. Each week a new thought-provoking question is posted on these chalk boards and students are encouraged to write their thoughts. The first question posted on September 17th was, “Why is Free Speech important to you?”
The Freedom Square Launch event was open to the entire campus and attended by several members of the Student Government Association and University officials. Remarks were shared by the SGA Director of Civic Engagement, the Provost, and the Vice President of Student Affairs. Following these remarks, several student groups performed. Performances included speeches, dances, poems, and skits related to the mission of Freedom Square. The purpose of the event was to introduce the space and its mission to the campus as well as encourage passerby to answer the chalkboard questions. At the end of the event, attendees were informed that Freedom Square is available to all students and student groups to reserve for events related to its mission. A Freedom Square Grant has also been created to help subsidize costs related to these events. Over the course of the fall semester numerous events were hosted by student groups in Freedom Square, including an overnight Night of Homelessness demonstration, immigration rally and 2010 Election activities. Each week students responded to a different question written on the chalkboards. In the future, in addition to the physical Freedom Square, there will be a virtual Freedom Square on the Towson website with the same mission.
The Freedom Square Mission Statement:
The Mission of Freedom Square is to provide a forum for the campus community to express and deliberate issues of civic concern. The space shall be a haven for freedom of expression and speech, in addition to encouraging an atmosphere of critical thinking and debate.