Created to inspire students, as Savio did, 'to act upon conscience in order to ensure justice.' "
The Mario Savio Speakers' Corner will be dedicated at Sonoma State University on Thursday, Nov. 15 in a ceremony from noon to 1 p.m. 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.
Lynn Lowery, one of the event organizers, says "it is the hope of the memorial committee is that the Mario Savio Speakers' Corner will be used by the SSU and 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 will include music, poetry, and short speeches by people who worked closely with him or have been inspired by his work.
A reception for donors and other contributors to the Mario Savio Speakers' Corner will take place in the HUB (Multicultural Center) at the Student Union following the dedication, from 1:30 - 3 p.m.
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 sixties, 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 memorial was brought to its final realization thanks to the leadership of SSU students Jason Avel DeLeon and Cesar Cruz of the student club United by Struggles.
DeLeon is majoring in philosophy and Cruz in Communication Studies. Both became interested in the life and work of Mario Savio during their freshmen year after hearing one of Savio's speeches in preparation for a speech-writing assignment.
Inspired by the idea of a speakers' area that would serve as a functional memorial to Mario Savio, these two student leaders played critical roles in bringing to completion a memorial project which began in committee sixteen years ago. DeLeon is an Equal Opportunity Program (EOP) student who immigrated with his family to the U.S. from El Salvador. He plans to enter the Franciscan order and work with the poor after he graduates in December.
Christopher Dinno, Senior Director for Facilities Management, Capital Planning, Design and Construction, developed a simple, clean and elegant design for the Mario Savio Speakers' Corner. Working with the committee he guided the project through the Campus Planning Committee process including management and development of the budget and construction process.
Central to the design is the circular motif and the integration of three benches into the landscape, weaving quotes from Savio into the architecture. In the center of the Speakers' Corner is a stone engraved with information about Savio. To add color and beauty, three small flowering pear trees will be planted just behind it.
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 which can work well for small group discussions and debates as well as for the educational purposes of instructors.
Above, (right) Mario Savio speaking at Sonoma State College in 1965. (Left) He would later join the faculty at SSU in 1990.
Benches at the speakers' corner have quotes from Savio's speeches.
Noon to 1 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 15
Northwest corner of Stevenson Quad
Dedication of the Mario Savio Speakers' Corner
1. Music: Gerry and Noah Tenney, and The SSU Interfaith Gospel Choir
2. Welcome and expression of thanks to contributors: Lynn Lowery, LSS
3. Jason Avel Deleon, co-founder of United by Struggles
4. Elaine Sundberg, Associate Vice President of Academic Programs
Dedication of the Mario Savio Speakers' Corner
Mario Savio, SSU teacher, 1990-1996
5. Music: Kala Heekin, SSU AMCS student
6. Lynne Hollander Savio
Freedom Summer and the Free Speech Movement 1964
"Bodies upon the Gears" speech
7. Music: The SSU Interfaith Gospel Choir
8. Mette Adams, former SSU student activist, student of Mario Savio
SSU Fee Battle, Fall 1996
9. Victor Garlin, SSU Professor of Economics 1970-2007, CFA leader.
Lecturer Rights, Proposition 187 and Proposition 209, 1994-1996.
10. Chirelle McCorley, SSU Student Leader.
Maya Angelou's poem, "When Great Trees Fall"
11. Noah Tenney, founder of SSU club, Students with Disabilities and Allies
12. Closing Music: Noah and Gerry Tenney