Here’s a story with a happy ending.
Two weeks ago, Jacob Miller, a graduate student at the University of Arizona, was arrested on campus. His crime? Chalking.
Miller, along with a number of other students, had been writing slogans and drawings on the university’s sidewalks in chalk to promote a rally protesting the commercialization of higher education. A university employee called the police, and Miller was arrested for criminal damage and disturbing an educational institution.
The two charges were each class one misdemeanors, and carried a combined maximum penalty of a year in prison and $5,000 in fines. Miller had been identified through video surveillance footage.
The arrest sparked a huge uproar on campus. The following weekend a group of students began buying sidewalk chalk in bulk and handing it out by the bucketful on campus. Early on Monday morning a Poli Sci major named Evan Lisull was was arrested for writing the slogans “Chalk is Speech” and “Freedom of Expression” on campus sidewalks.
Lisull’s arrest seemed likely to escalate the situation further, but instead it brought the university to its senses. On Monday afternoon UA president Robert Shelton instructed campus police to drop all charges against the two students, and declared that the university would no longer treat chalking as a criminal matter.
UA said at the time that it would in the future handle chalking complaints “as possible Code of Conduct violations through the Dean of Students Office,” but soon it was in full retreat, announcing this week that chalkers would not face disciplinary consequences of any kind.
Chalk one up for … well, you know.