Freedom of speech on campuses the focus of RIT’s statesmanship symposium

Two national experts to give talks about free speech

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Nadine Strossen and Alan Kors will talk about freedom of speech on campuses during the Center for Statesmanship, Law and Liberty’s fourth annual symposium at RIT.

Restrictions to free speech on college campuses across the country have become more prevalent in recent weeks, and two experts on the topic are addressing the issue during Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Statesmanship, Law and Liberty’s fourth annual symposium April 4 and 5.

This year’s theme is “The University as a Marketplace of Ideas? The Debate over Free Speech and Fundamental Fairness on Campus.”

“Clearly, this has been a contentious issue on campuses throughout the country, including a rash of protests, the shouting down of a speaker and more subtle threats to free speech including campaigns against unconscious bias and the expansion of Title IX – policies that seek to protect against a hostile environment,” said center Director Joseph Fornieri. “This symposium will allow us to explore how free speech is being threatened on campuses and what we can do to protect it.”

The symposium’s first speaker, at 7 p.m. April 4 in Room A-205 in Liberal Arts Hall, is constitutional law expert Nadine Strossen, former president of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1991 through 2008. Currently a professor at New York Law School, her talk is titled “Title IX: Hostile Environment Policies that are Hostile to Free Speech and Due Process.”

On April 5, Alan Kors, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the 2005 recipient of the National Humanities Medal, will give his talk, “No Freedom of Speech, No Higher Education,” at 7 p.m. in Ingle Auditorium.

Kors, who served six years on the National Council for the Humanities of the National Endowment for the Humanities, co-founded the non-partisan group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) in 1999. FIRE’s mission is to defend and sustain student, faculty and staff rights on college campuses, including freedom of speech, legal equity, due process, religious liberty and sanctity of conscience.

Both talks are free and open to the public.

“We are honored to have professors Strossen and Kors on campus addressing these important issues,” said James Winebrake, dean of RIT’s College of Liberal Arts. “Academic institutions are founded on principles of free expression, so it is particularly important to understand how higher education itself may be intentionally or unintentionally quelling such expression on campus.”

RIT’s Center for Statesmanship, Law and Liberty was formed in 2014 to promote an understanding of the crucial role of statesmanship in founding, perpetuating and enhancing a free society.