FIRE Visit Marks Progress for Free Speech at UW-Stout

By March 29, 2012

Yesterday, I wrote that Adam would be at the University of Wisconsin – Stout this week. He spoke twice on campus yesterday, first addressing the campus community at a public lecture and then leading a discussion with students from a General Ethics class. His campus visit was reported by Pamela Powers of the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wisc.), which previously covered the Firefly poster controversy at on campus last fall. Powers writes:

FIRE vice president of programs Adam Kissel said it was rare that UW-Stout officials would invite him to campus after such an incident. FIRE has defended faculty and student free speech rights for the past dozen years. 

"I feel like you are going in the right direction and turning this negative into a positive," Kissel said of UW-Stout administration. 

The school’s administration also seems to recognize that an open discussion about the situation and how to move forward is a positive sign. Powers quotes UW-Stout spokesman Doug Mell: 

"We brought him to campus today," Mell said of Kissel. "This is a group that made our life difficult for weeks, and we brought them to campus. The proof’s in the pudding."

Although the pudding is not quite fully cooked (UW-Stout still has several red light speech codes to resolve), Adam’s visit does mark a step forward for free expression on campus. Thanks again to the Center for Applied Ethics for organizing Adam’s visit, and here’s hoping for continued progress in Menomonie! As always, FIRE stands ready to help. 

Schools: University of Wisconsin – Stout Cases: University of Wisconsin – Stout: Censorship, Referral to Threat Assessment Team, and Threat of Criminal Charges after Professor Puts Posters Outside Office Door