For the second semester in a row, FIRE’s Campus Freedom Network has ended a successful incentive program campaign.
The CFN is FIRE’s grassroots effort to connect students and faculty at colleges across the country in an effort to reform illiberal campus rules and regulations. Starting in fall 2008, the CFN launched an incentive program that rewarded students who were active for liberty on campus. Last semester’s winners were impressive, and we are happy to say the same about this semester’s winners.
This year’s third place winner is Adam Shamah from Binghamton University. A rising junior, Adam is the Editor-in-Chief of The Binghamton Review, a conservative publication on the Binghamton campus. Adam authored an article about the case of Binghamton social work student Andre Massena who FIRE successfully defended this past fall. But rather than stop there, Adam’s pursuit of justice continued into the next semester. A follow-up article was published in the magazine’s February issue, as Adam hosted FIRE’s Adam Kissel on campus and interviewed him. In sum, Adam turned out an great performance in defense of liberty this semester. This is a student who truly understands the importance of free expression in a civil society. Responding to a letter to the editor to The Binghamton Review questioning why the paper had been so vocal in support of a student whose political beliefs were radically different than the paper’s editors, writers, and audience, Adam wrote:
What you need to understand is we believe in the idea of liberty and will ALWAYS fight for students whose rights have been trampled on, regardless of said student’s political persuasion. Free speech is free speech, no matter if it is a conservative or a liberal who is exercising it.
As our way of rewarding him for standing up for liberty on his campus (goodness knows Binghamton University is unlikely to do it!), Adam will receive a 16GB iPod Touch.
Our second place winner is Colin Reusch, who this year graduated from Eastern Kentucky University. Colin has been working to reform campus policies for a few years. He worked with a number of other students to propose revisions to a restrictive campus posting policy, and his group hopes that its hard work and steady patience will bear fruit after the college administration finishes reviewing their suggested changes. During this semester, Colin hosted a successful lecture by CFN Director Luke Sheahan and recruited several of his friends to join the Campus Freedom Network. In honor of his hard work, we will be sending Colin a new MacBook laptop.
Our spring incentive program grand prize winner is Kyle Duerstein, a rising senior at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Kyle, working with other student government leaders across the University of Wisconsin system, led the fight against proposed changes to the State Administrative Code—the law that governs judicial procedures within Wisconsin’s public universities. Working with the United Council of UW Students, Kyle organized a statewide speaking tour which brought FIRE’s Adam Kissel to lecture at a number of UW system campuses and even to attend a hearing of the UW Board of Regents. Kyle did a tremendous job organizing the whole event, as well as being a persistent defender of the expressive rights of his fellow students.
Thankfully, his hard work and the hard work of a number of other campus allies has led to victory. FIRE recently announced that the UW Board of Regents has come out in favor of supporting students’ rights and has agreed to not include the most troublesome elements of the proposed changes—changes that were originally thought to be unstoppable. As the CFN’s grand prize winner, Kyle will receive a $2,500 scholarship.
The remarkable effort of these three students, in combination with all of our other active CFN members, has helped lead to the incredible growth that the CFN has seen over the past year. I appreciate all the excellent contributions that our members have made over the past year and look forward to even more exciting developments as the school year starts again this fall.