Introducing FIRE Summer Intern Emily Kraus

By June 20, 2011

Emily Kraus is a rising senior at Brandeis University, where she is currently majoring in English and politics with minors in legal studies and philosophy. She is editor in chief of Brandeis’ independent student newspaper, The Justice, as well as a member of the Brandeis University Mock Trial Association. Previously, Emily has interned for the City of Philadelphia through the Mayor’s Internship Program and for the Anti-Defamation League as part of the JEVS Ash Internship Program.

Of her decision to come to FIRE this summer, she writes:

As editor in chief of my school’s student newspaper, FIRE’s mission of protecting free speech on college campuses really resonated with me. I have been fortunate enough to have had positive experiences as a journalist at Brandeis: I have never been forced to submit an article for prior approval by my school’s administration, and it has always been clear to me that the school values having an independent student newspaper. However, not every student has been as lucky as I, and it is important to me this summer to not only learn about my free speech rights as a student but to help others learn about their rights as well.

I have found during my time at Brandeis that my most rewarding experiences have come from open discussion and debate with my peers and teachers. Having the ability to freely talk about controversial and sensitive issues has helped me learn more about others’ perspectives and to examine my own beliefs more closely. FIRE ensures that colleges and universities provide students with a venue for open discourse and a place where learning through discussion is encouraged instead of curtailed. Censoring speech that is unpopular doesn’t teach students anything; it forces us to live in a bubble, where we only hear about the ideas with which we agree and can conveniently forget challenging ideas and concepts. If I suddenly found myself restricted in the things that I could say or do on campus, I would not have the same ability to have meaningful interactions with my peers, and a crucial aspect of the college experience would be gone.

During my time at FIRE, I want to help other college students learn about their rights so that they can have the same positive experiences that I have had so far in my undergraduate career. I also want to learn about my own rights so that I can make my college experience as meaningful as possible. By ensuring that I can speak my mind and that I will be able to encounter opinions and ideals that are different (sometimes radically different) from my own, I give myself an opportunity to gain an education that doesn’t merely tell me the things I want to hear. My time as an undergraduate should prepare me to interact respectfully with those with whom I disagree, and it should train me to think critically and analytically about the ideas and concepts that I encounter. In promoting open discourse on college campuses, FIRE works to make sure that all undergraduates can participate in a college environment that fosters learning instead of inhibiting it. I look forward to working toward that goal as an intern this summer.