UW-Madison YAL hosted Sean Clark from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for a lecture/discussion on why true free speech on college campuses is so important and how to combat restrictive speech codes.
Drawing from his experience at Penn State, Sean discussed how universities sometimes work to get rid of certain organizations or viewpoints that are not in line with the majority of the campus. The university attempted to shut down their Young Americans for Freedom chapter by citing religious language in their Constitution (“God given rights”) and claimed that the language barred members of other religious groups from joining their chapter. The chapter was never aware of such language and there were several members of different religious affiliations active in the chapter.
Nine years at FIRE has allowed Sean to see the positive transition towards freer speech on campuses, while noting that there is still work to be done. Students can refer to FIRE’s rating system including Red, Yellow, and Green lights according to campus speech codes or policies. The organization also checks campuses annually to ensure that administrators didn’t simply re-implement previously repealed speech policies. UW-Madison is currently sporting a Red light.
Though the Badgers were scheduled to play in the Sweet Sixteen during the event that evening, we enjoyed an interactive discussion based on different interests and questions about free speech and due process.
After the event five of our executives joined Sean at Union South for further conversation and Sweet Sixteen basketball. Overall, the event was very insightful and enjoyable and we would like to thank both FIRE and Sean for their fight towards true free speech.
If you’re in the Midwest and are interested in learning more about effective activism in the liberty movement, register for the YAL Wisconsin State Convention on April 26, 2014 here.Published in