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Spray Paint Politics: The Importance of NC State’s Free Expression Tunnels

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NCSU chapter.

Walking through the free expression tunnel, you are instantly captivated. The caked-up layers of spray paint sticking out at you from every angle, the painted faces surrounding you, the loud color, and the horrible smell all give the feeling the tunnel is alive. It has an atmosphere entirely separate from the rest of the NC State campus and, as my friend once said, “surprisingly no swasticas”.
While to most visitors and students, the free expression tunnel is usually seen as an interesting picture spot or the only place bubble letters are allowed, if you look a little deeper you find it is the heart of many NC State students. This is seen through big political declarations, but also little pictures that show an insight into their favorite songs, artists, TV shows, and movies.

The Free expression tunnel, is used to raise awareness for mental health, climate change, voting, and so much more. With the recent genocide in Palestine, we can truly see where a lot of NC State Students stand, as Pro-Palestine artistry is plastered all over the tunnels and rarely covered up. Students have a voice, and the tunnel has become an essential way to spread their beliefs. Realizing you share the same morals, interests, and ideas with your peers can make you feel connected in an experience where it is easy to feel lonely or isolated, giving you a greater sense of community.

The tunnel is a way to relate to students you have never met and form a connection. Like my peers, most days, I walk through the tunnels rushing on my way to class, not acknowledging the art surrounding me, but on the days when I stop and take the time to look, I am always pleasantly surprised. This generation has been called many names, most of them unpleasant, but walking through the free expression tunnel, you can not help but think, “Wow the kids are alright”. Sure, we can be a bit dense and emotionally stunted but, we care and understand the importance of our voice and want to use it. So I implore you, if you are a student, parent, visitor, etc next time you find yourself walking through the tunnel, take a moment to consider what it might be trying to teach you and if you can see yourself in any of the paintings.

Kimani Potts is a new member of Her Campus at NC State. This is her first year attending the school, and she is excited to produce well-written articles about some of her favorite topics. Before coming to NC State, Kimani attended Merancas Middle College High School in Huntersville, North Carolina. She was in many clubs, including Yearbook, Black Student Union, and Speech and Debate. She was the co-president of a club called Campus Curls, a safe place for people with curly hair types to connect, learn, and help each other with their hair. During high school , she held two different jobs, one was a receptionist at a nail salon, the other as a waiter in a restaurant. Both helped her develop people skills and patience. She is now a freshman majoring in History and plans to minor in Art Studies. After graduation, she hopes to get her masters in Art History. Then, become an Art Curator in a museum specializing in Stone Age Art. Kimani grew up in Charlotte, NC, alongside her brothers Kamoren and Malcolm. She spent her childhood surrounded by her cousins and extended family. She enjoys going to the movie theater, bowling, thrift shopping, reading, making jewelry, and crocheting. Some of her favorite artists are Lana Del Ray, Phoebe Bridgers, Frank Ocean, Noah Kahn, and SZA. She enjoys TV Shows over movies. Some that she cannot stop watching are Derry Girls, Community, Being Human, American Vandal, and The Bear.