Today in NC State History: Straying outside the tunnel’s lines

January 30, 2014
By Bill Krueger

historyIconAs early as pre-school, it’s evident that some kids either won’t — or can’t – draw between the lines. The same, apparently, is true of some college students.

On this day in 1995, a meeting was held at the University Student Center to discuss problems at the Free Expression Tunnel. The subsequent headline in the Technician spelled out the problem: “Scribblers who can’t stay in between the lines are costing the university thousands of dollars.”

The issue was not what people were painting inside the tunnel. It was what they were painting outside the tunnel, ignoring rules that had been in place since 1967.

“People are only allowed to paint within the confines of the tunnel,” said a campus official, who noted that the university spent $14,000 the previous year cleaning up vandalized areas outside the tunnel.

Student Body President Bobby Johnson said that students weren’t aware of the boundaries.

Bob Bryan, president of the Faculty Senate, seemed more concerned about what was being painted within the tunnel. “My biggest concern is all the crude, crass and immature expressions,” he said. “The good part is that we value free speech. I would just like to see enlightening and positive art instead.”

That prompted Clayton Goldsmith, a junior in mechanical engineering, to speak up for the Free Expression Tunnel and the role it played on campus.

“The Free Expression Tunnel is a book of sorts,” he said. “New pages are written every day. Although the pages cannot be turned back, those few thick inches of paint represent the history of expression.”

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