|Savio’s memory honored with free speech site at SSU
The Mario Savio Speakers’ Corner was dedicated at Sonoma State University on Thursday, Nov. 15, in a noontime ceremony on the northwest corner of Stevenson Quad, where a special memorial has been created.
To commemorate the free speech activist's life and work, the memorial committee chose a circular speakers’ area embraced by a berm underneath a large tree where the dedication will take place. The hope of the memorial committee is the Mario Savio Speakers’ Corner will be used by SSU and the larger community to exercise their right to speak freely on issues of concern to them, and that it will inspire students, as Savio did, "to act upon conscience in order to ensure justice."
The ceremony honoring Savio's life and work included music, poetry, and short speeches by people who worked closely with him or have been inspired by his work.
Savio, a beloved teacher of math, philosophy and the humanities at SSU from 1990-1996 and a leader of the Free Speech Movement at U.C. Berkeley in the 1960s, was an eloquent spokesperson and courageous activist throughout his life.
He advocated for free speech, civil rights, immigrant rights, affirmative action, student and lecturer rights and access to public higher education for low-income, first-generation students, and other non-traditional students.
The speakers’ area is set with paver stones of varying colors and surrounded by three curved benches inlaid with engraved stones that contain quotes from Savio. In the center of the Speakers’ Corner is a stone engraved with information about him. To add color and beauty, three small flowering pear trees will be planted just behind the Speakers’ Corner.
This functional memorial is designed to accommodate more than one speaker at a time, and speakers can speak in several directions (toward the quad, the Student Union, and Stevenson Hall). The curved benches on three sides of the speakers’ corner create an area that can work well for small group discussions and debates as well as for the educational purposes of instructors.
The design plan was based on a collaboration of the Mario Savio Memorial Committee and architect Christopher Dinno, Senior Director for Facilities Management, Capital Planning, Design and Construction.