Free Expression Tunnel, 1967

Wes McClure talks about when students were first allowed to paint graffiti in what eventually became known as the Free Expression Tunnel.

Interview on 2014-12-04


00:00:00.000 The Harrelson Tunnel, there were some issues related to it in terms of just access. You know it’s always this access from one side of the campus
00:00:06.611 to the other with a railroad through the middle. But I recall the term “Free Expression Tunnel” being used.
00:00:15.156 Maybe it was used in support of the idea of it or something, I don’t know, before it was a real name for it.
00:00:20.727 But it was something that students felt was an important thing because it was free expression, but it needed to be sort of within certain boundaries.
00:00:34.874 Besides, what harm is there? It’s a concrete tunnel under a railroad track.I mean, come on. Give me a break.
00:00:42.679 You can’t say: oh, we can’t do graffiti, or whatever. Of course this was long before the idea of graffiti as art, long before that, and tagging things and so on.
00:00:52.223 But it was something that I think–. I guess it goes back to the whole idea of students being able to be present in the dialogue and it’s just one more way
00:01:09.208 way in having responsibility for that. So I think it was important, but it wasn’t protests or any of that sort of thing.
00:01:15.579 It would be just sort of typical legislation and standing up and saying: we think this should happen.
00:01:19.184 Interviewer: What was the attitude of administration?
00:01:24.654 Wes McClure: Well I think it depends on what you mean by “administration,” because the administration goes all the way down from the chancellor to the physical plant.
00:01:30.729 As far as physical plant was concerned: “Oh, that’s horrible. Anything that messes up any part of the physical plant: if they paint there, maybe they’ll paint next door.”
00:01:41.139 Our idea was: paint there and then you don’t paint next door.