Monument to the First Amendment

Art and Journalism Building Dedication, November 4, 2001

The latest addition to Ball State's campus -- the four-story Art and Journalism Building -- will be a training ground for future guardians of the First Amendment.

Throughout history, artists and journalists -- along with religious leaders, political activists and others -- have been persecuted for the public statements they have made. At Ball State, in both the art and journalism departments, faculty members have attempted to foster an atmosphere conducive to the preservation of free expression.

"Artists and journalists need to have the right to create what they want to create and state what they want to state," said Thomas Spoerner, chairman of the Department of Art.

Spoerner said his department has never, to his knowledge, faced any significant First Amendment controversies. The new art gallery by the Atrium, however, will make students' works more visible to campus, as well as the general public.

"Those new galleries downstairs may get us into some sticky situations," Spoerner said.

Journalism students over the years have faced some conflicts with those who think students take their freedoms too far. Most recently, the DAILY NEWS came under fire last spring for running alcohol advertisements on a regular basis. Members of the Student Government Association attempted to pass legislation restricting these advertisements. It was defeated.

Even journalism students, though, have experienced little overall pressure from the public to censor themselves. According to Marilyn Weaver, chairperson of the Department of Journalism, it is because of the education the Ball State community has received from Louis Ingelhart, journalism professor emeritus and director of student publications emeritus.

"(Ingelhart) made it his role to educate educators on the role of a college newspaper," Weaver said.

In fact, Ingelhart himself is quick to point out that artists and journalists are not the only guardians of the First Amendment.

"The First Amendment touches everybody," Ingelhart said, "and everybody has to defend it."


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