Earlier this month, members of FIRE’s Campus Freedom Network and American University Students for Liberty hosted a FIRE table on their campus. They passed out FIRE’s Guides to Students Rights on Campus as well as other FIRE materials to students walking around campus. According to CFN member and AU SFL President Irena Schneider ’11, “We taped our mouths with duct tape, on which we wrote ‘speech codes.’ We hampered ourselves this way to symbolize the inability of students across the country to express themselves freely because of restrictive speech codes enforced by their university administrations.” Along with the materials provided by FIRE, Irena and the other members of the group passed out a flyer they had created which listed some of FIRE’s most outrageous cases, an explanation of American’s speech code rating, and an advertisement for FIRE’s website.
The table was well placed to draw a lot of student traffic. In fact, they were able to sign up several students for the CFN and even be on hand to answer questions when tours of prospective students and their parents passed by. Explains Irena, “Not only did many parents show a great interest in what we were doing, but we were able to hand out every copy of FIRE’s Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus.”
From all reports, the event was a fantastic success. Beyond simply distributing information, Irena and others actively engaged passersby about free speech, censorship, and the importance of being vigilant about one’s rights. “Some students had debates about free speech right in front of our eyes,” Irena explained, “and all of them came to the conclusion that the protection of free speech is much more important than they had previously believed.” I’m really proud of the hard work that Irena, Nick Zaiac ’12 and all of these CFN members put in to raise awareness of FIRE’s issues on their campus.
If you’re interested in doing something similar on your campus, drop me a line or check out the CFN’s activism case studies for examples of what other students have done and are doing to reform their campus.