Mark Johnson’s Soapbox Speeches -mrm -dlh

Stanton, Katy

Have you ever wanted to stand on a yellow crate and bellow out your innermost thoughts about whatever issue you should choose while people mill around below you, wondering what you are doing? Well, here’s your chance.
Mark Johnson, a freshman, has given Lawrence University students and faculty a new outlet for their frustrations, opinions, and ideas. Every Monday and Wednesday at 12:25 p.m., Johnson gives someone the opportunity to climb onto the yellow speech-giving crate and let loose. As the speaker you stand by the clock to the east of Main Hall while the students, staff, and faculty that go to Downer or Lucy’s stream past, listening to your opinions and, at the end, giving their own reactions.
This event was designed to give voice to controversial issues. Johnson claims that “applying knowledge comes from feeling challenged and we are not often given the chance to voice our opinions and challenge each other’s views.” These soapbox campaigns encourage students and faculty to express their opinions in an informal, yet very public fashion.
So far, speech topics have included the twice-a-week crate speech itself, the state of the environment, and LUCC pet rules. Johnson encourages faculty as well as students to participate. He believes that professors frequently give up their opinions for the sake of impartial education. For him, in this event, learning is in fact the highest priority; the speech needs to be about a hot issue, not just one that toots the speaker’s own horn.
The best part of this program is that anyone can do it, and topics can be on any issue the speaker chooses. Johnson insists, however, that the chosen topic “be one that the speaker is passionate about” *********– and how could it not be? Standing and arbitrarily shouting at countless faces that pass by takes quite the brave orator.
So as you exit your 11:10 classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, take a moment at listen to that crazy person standing on a yellow crate hollering at you. Maybe you’ll like what he says, or *******– as Mark Johnson hopes *********– maybe you won’t and you can step up to the crate next week.