Here’s What Students Will Learn at the CFN Conference

By on July 14, 2010

The Campus Freedom Network Conference begins tomorrow evening! Here’s what students have to look forward to in the coming days.

Thursday night, students will network and meet FIRE’s staff at a reception and dinner. Then University of Massachusetts at Amherst professor and FIRE Board of Directors member Daphne Patai will kick off the conference with an after-dinner speech. Professor Patai has been a long-time critic of censorship on campus, publishing extensively on campus illiberalism.

Students will be up bright and early Friday morning to hear from the chairman of FIRE’s Board of Directors, Harvey Silverglate. Harvey is a long-time civil liberties attorney, experienced advocate for First Amendment rights, and author of numerous articles and two books, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses (with Alan Charles Kors) and Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will follow Harvey with a speech on "The Problem: Students Against Liberty." Torch readers will remember that Greg contributed a chapter to the book New Threats to Freedom on this phenomenon. Students will then hear from a distinguished panel on free speech as a philosophical concept and why it is important. Panelists include Greg Baylor, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund; Adam Kissel, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program; and Daphne Patai. Greg Lukianoff will moderate.

After lunch students will learn about the First Amendment case law as it relates to campus speech from Will Creeley, FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy. Will has coordinated FIRE’s efforts for its amicus briefs in federal and state courts across the country. 

Following Will, Samantha Harris, FIRE’s Director of Speech Code Research, will give a short overview of speech codes and FIRE’s Spotlight rating system. Then students will break up into workshops, each led by a FIRE staff member, to work through a worksheet on common problems in campus speech policies. Each student will also receive a copy of the speech codes at their own schools and have the opportunity to work through the problems with those policies.

Friday night, students will network at a reception and dinner and then hear from Brookings Institution scholar and contributor to The Atlantic Jonathan Rauch, author of Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought

Saturday morning, students will have a workshop led by FIRE’s Sweidy Strata Video Fellow, Joe Stramowski, and me on how to make good video and how to use new media to get the message out about liberty. 

Finally, students will hear from a panel of recent graduates who have faced and fought censorship on campus. Chris Lee will discuss his experiences being shouted down by a mob of students funded by the Washington State University administration; Michele Kerr will explain how she was nearly expelled from Stanford University’s Education program for questioning its adherence to ideological dogma; and Braum Katz will provide activism tips he learned from making The College of William & Mary a green-light school. 

The conference promises to be an enlightening and invigorating experience. We look forward to meeting our student attendees in person and learning how we can help them reform their campuses for liberty.