University of Arizona authorities are in the process of dropping charges against two students ticketed for drawing on the campus with chalk earlier this week.
As part of a student rally, 24-year old Jacob Miller and 10 others drew pictures and messages to protest budget cuts on Thursday. Among their dangerous doodles were outlines of bodies with price tags, to represent the "commercialization of education," according to the student paper, the Daily Wildcat.
Miller was ticketed later that day for "criminal damages and disrupting university operations," and charged with two class-one misdemeanors, which carry a fine of $2,500 and up to six months in jail for each count.
Outraged over Miller's arrest, another student, Evan Lisull wrote "Chalk is speech," and "Freedom of expression" on the campus sidewalk Monday morning, according to the Daily Star, and was promptly ticketed for the same offense.
Understandably, many Arizona State University students were pissed off. Student Tom Shea started a Facebook group "Support Jacob Miller" on Sunday. At the time of publication, the membership had reached 271.
The University of Arizona was pretty quick to back down. Spokesman Paul Allvin says the ticketing incident was a big misunderstanding, and maintains that the university is fully committed to freedom of speech.
"This was the last outcome I think anyone wanted," said Allvin, referring to the citations. In the future, Allvin said, students caught drawing on buildings would be referred to the Dean of Students Office.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.