Roark discusses personal boundaries

Assistant Professor of Law Marc Roark gave a lecture titled “Sacred Space” in the President’s Dining Room on Monday. Roark, who has been teaching at La Verne since 2009, has published articles on property, commercial law, and religion. / photo by Candice Salazar
Assistant Professor of Law Marc Roark gave a lecture titled “Sacred Space” in the President’s Dining Room on Monday. Roark, who has been teaching at La Verne since 2009, has published articles on property, commercial law, and religion. / photo by Candice Salazar

Jesse Evans
Grady Lee Thomas
Staff Writers

The Faculty Lecture Series featured Assistant Professor of Law Marc Roark, who spoke on “Property and Process of Sacred Space,” Monday in the President’s Dining Room.

Roark discussed personal space and the way people approach distance from others in his lecture, before roughly 25 students and faculty members who attended the lunchtime lecture.

“We have these unstated expectations that reveal themselves, even at times when the law does not apply,” Roark said.

“Anytime you have a set of unspoken rules, they respond to a cultural setting and derive from our basic appreciation that things happen in culture that cause us to go with the flow,” he said.

Roark discussed how individuals have their own sacred or personal space, which varies from person to person.

Roark said that a fence as an example to show how people like their personal space.

“What does a fence do?” Roark asked. “A fence creates informal order and represents us.”

The three factors in the law that protect identity are: consensus building, demarketization and localization.

Each playing a unique role because humans subconsciously mark their space in one or more of these particular manners.

Consensus deals with disagreements, but they get resolved through consensus building.

For example, at ground zero there have been protesters who do not want a mosque built so close to the site of 9/11.

These protesters state they would much rather have it as a burial site for the victims of the deadly attack.

Demarketization means making a given space or property undesirable.

Localization has to do with protecting something close to a certain group.

“The interesting thing is that we see multiple strategies in each of these three methods of thought,” Roark said.

Roark gave several court cases that allowed the audience a better perspective on how each factor can affect the other when dealing with the law.

Salazar v. Buono was one specific case that combined all three memory and identity factors.

The case deals with placement of a religious symbol on public land when in 1934, Veterans of Foreign Wars placed a Latin cross atop of a rock formation in the Mojave National Preserve.

The Mojave National Preserve is federal land to honor American soldiers who died in combat during World War I.

“The lecture made me more aware of personal space and what other people expect of their personal space,” sophomore communications multimedia major Alexis Mazon said.

“It was interesting to learn about spatial issues because I know I have my own boundaries,” sophomore speech communications major Brittany Martinez said.

“I believe there are certain issues that are universal and it was nice to see Mr. Roark’s take on things,” Martinez said.

Roark is currently doing his own research based on how people act in space in a variety of public venues, including Olvera Street Market and Plaza in downtown Los Angeles; Metrolink trains; surfers at Palos Verde, Malibu and Hollisters Ranch; and public nudists.

“I became interested in this when I was riding a Greyhound bus,” Roark said. “I took the least intimidating seat and this gentleman would not move his suitcase to make the seat available and I wondered why he was doing this.”

“The lecture made me aware of personal space and how people expect to have their own uninhibited personal space,” junior speech communications major John Leggett said.

Jesse Evans can be reached at

Grady Lee Thomas can be reached at

Candice Salazar

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