You weren’t using those First Amendment rights, were you?

St. Louis SPJ was happy to co-sponsor the First Amendment Free* Food Festival at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Monday, in which students sign away their First Amendment rights for free pizza.

It’s usually not a hard sell.

Participants sign away their rights and receive a passport into the Kingdom of the Socialist States of the People’s Republic of Mass Communica, which is a cordoned patio where pizza and soda are served.

The grand high ruler of Mass Communica is portrayed by our own Tammy Merrett, vice president of St. Louis SPJ and advisor to the SIUE Alestle.

However, while they are eating, they are instructed what they can talk about, read and so on. It serves as a demonstration of life without the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, and usually opens some eyes.

Don’t like where have to sit? What you’re allowed to read? Or wear? Or who you are instructed to associate with? TOUGH.


This year, Mass Communica had religious missionaries from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (otherwise known as Pastafarians) attempting to recruit from outside its borders, as well as subversive journalists attempting to sneak newspapers into Mass Communica.

Yes, that’s a pasta strainer on her head.

The FAFF is one of several special events taking place this week at SIUE for Mass Comm Week. All events are open to the public. Among them:

  • “Reporting in the Digital Age,” Dana Rieck of Missouri Lawyers Media, 9:30 a.m. Tuesday
  • “Practical Ethics,” St. Louis SPJ President Elizabeth Donald, 3:30 p.m. Tuesday
  • “If I Worried About Social Media, I’d Never Make a Movie,” filmmaker Trisha Ziff, noon Wednesday
  • “Who Wants to Know? Investigative Reporting in Small Markets,” Beth Hundsdorfer of St. Louis Public Radio, 1:30 p.m. Wednesday
  • “Writing and Reporting Broadcast News,” Holly Edgell of St. Louis Public Radio, 3:30 Thursday
  • And many more! Click here for more information.

Approximately 94 students, faculty, staff and visitors signed away their rights at this year’s FAFF, and another 31 approached Mass Communica but decided not to give up the First Amendment for pizza.

Despite the best efforts of the Goon Squad, a few subversives snuck in.

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