K-State Student Union is anticipating the anniversary of the construction of Bosco Student Plaza. However, few students realize that before 2000, the plaza was simply a two-lane street and was known as the Free Speech Zone – a designated area on campus for students to voice their opinions and beliefs.
The following article is from the October 19, 2000, Collegian, written by Maggie Blunk and accurately depicts the future of the Plaza.
Union Plaza still site of free speech
The area between the K-State Student Union and Seaton Hall now might be known as the Union Plaza, but it still remains the campus free-speech zone.
Loleta Sump, facilities support service manager, said the area has not been released to the state by the contractors. Consequently, she said she was unsure whether the rules of the “free speech” area would stay the same.
“In terms of policy and ground usage, that will stay the same,” she said. “The change will be vehicles driving through.”
Sump said there still will be an area for emergency vehicles to pass through, but regular vehicles no longer will have that luxury.
The majority of the users of the free speech area are registered students organizations, she said.
“Based on the requests I’ve gotten, I think the area will be used more,” she said. “The feedback I’ve received is that it is large, it looks nice and it is nicely landscaped.”
Besides taking reservations, Sump said she works closely with the Union.
“It’s like a partnership,” said Jack Connaughton, associate director of the Union. “Loleta makes the reservations, and we set up the tables or whatever is needed.”
Connaughton said there might be things that evolve in the future, but they are treating the area in the same way as it was before.
The brightly colored cement design and creative landscape has become an open place for student organizations to gather and students to meet.
“I think the area will gain more usage because there isn’t a road there anymore,” said Carla Jones, associate dean of student life. “I think it’ll gain more pedestrian traffic, which is important for campus life.”
Gayle Spencer, coordinator of student activities, said an area such as this is essential for the university.
“It’s important for us to make this area exist,” she said. “It’s people’s right to have an area that they can speak freely.”