Presentation to Highlight OHIO History of Student Expression – OHIO University Libraries

Presentation to Highlight OHIO History of Student Expression

Design by Chance Brinkman-Sull, graduate student in graphic design, Ohio University Libraries

Bill Kimok, University archivist, said he hopes to convey the complexity of “freedom of expression” in his upcoming presentation, “Student Expression and Administrative Reaction in OHIO History.”

“The whole point of my talk is that expression is more than speech,” said Kimok. “It’s clothing, dress codes, what people have on their dorm walls…expression is a huge topic.”

Kimok said his presentation, which will take place on March 21 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Friends of the Library room (319) on the third floor of Alden Library, gives a brief summary of various forms of student expression and administrative reaction over the University’s 214-year history.

“OHIO administrators have been addressing student expression in one way or another since 1812 when the very first board of trustees’ resolutions governing student behavior were codified,” he said.

Last semester, University President Duane Nellis and David Descutner, former interim executive vice president and provost, signed into effect an interim freedom of expression policy, which serves as the University’s freedom of expression policy until a permanent document is created, according to a Sept. 8 Compass article.

A crowd of student protesters gathered in front of a person playing guitar on Ohio University’s College Green in 1964. Protesters held signs reading “Good Schools Are Run For The Students” and “Why are our dooms over crowded?” Photo courtesy of Archives and Special Collections/Ohio University Libraries 


Kimok, who originally gave the presentation to the University’s Free Speech Task Force in January, began his research from materials in the Libraries’ Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections. After his January presentation, Kimok was asked to give the presentation to a larger audience. He added he would be happy to answer student and staff questions after the presentation.

Kimok intended for his research and input to help students and faculty understand background before deciding on a fitting policy for current and future students. Because the University’s history spans more than two centuries, Kimok said he had to selectively choose which aspects of expression to include, such as comparing the 1962 speech and speaker policy put forth by President Emeritus Vernon Alden to the policy adopted by Ohio State University at nearly the same time.

“Keeping the narrative flowing forward, clearly and concisely, [was my goal,]” he said.  “But also without wandering too far from the topic and the narrative, [I found] room for humorous anecdotal examples that illustrate the points.”