FIRE has decided to extend the deadline for entry into the first annual "Freedom on Campus" video contest to the end of the spring semester. College and graduate students who wish to enter now have until May 15, 2009, to get their submissions to FIRE.
So what exactly is FIRE looking for in a winning video entry? Think of a time on campus where you might have heard about a student, a student group, or a faculty member getting in trouble for protesting or saying something controversial. Or maybe a group was denied recognition and funding because of its beliefs. Perhaps there’s a speech code in your school’s student handbook that you believe is unconstitutional, or you’ve been forced to speak your mind within the confines of your campus’s "free speech zone." Maybe a peaceful protest was shut down by the campus police, and an unpopular viewpoint was silenced.
Chances are, something like this has already happened on your campus or will in the future, so keep an eye out for new violations. In fact, you can even look up your school in FIRE’s Spotlight database and discover if there have been any incidents with which we have been involved.
Once you’ve learned about a case, get both sides of the story and decide if any rights have been denied to those involved. And most importantly, get evidence that proves what happened. FIRE really wants to see footage of the incidents and interviews with those on the frontlines. A $5,000 cash prize is at stake, so we really want to see what happened, not just hear about it from one source.
As always, FIRE is here to help! If you have any questions about the First Amendment, speech codes and speech zones, or what’s considered legal or not, don’t hesitate to contact us and ask. We want to help you make the best video possible—something you can be proud of and that others can learn from. To get some inspiration, take a look at the documentaries we have produced on several cases around the country. While we are not necessarily looking for submissions of the same the quality as our documentaries, these videos should provide you with a basic understanding of the law and what’s right and wrong when it comes to free speech on college campuses.