FIRE Goes Back to School with a Video Contest, Scholarships, and New Facebook Tools

September 8, 2008

In today’s press release, FIRE highlights our new scholarship programs, our speech code widgets, the new Campus Freedom Network Incentive Program, and our new Facebook Spotlight and Speech Code of the Month widgets.

FIRE’s two scholarship programs include the “Freedom on Campus” student video contest for college students and the “Freedom in Academia” student essay contest for high school students. FIRE invites college student filmmakers to submit a ten-minute film documenting a free-speech controversy on a college campus. Films can highlight incidents of newspaper theft, student groups kicked off campus, free speech zones, or anything else intrepid undergraduate and graduate filmmakers can uncover and document. First prize will include a $5,000 scholarship and an all-expenses-paid invitation to the 2009 Campus Freedom Network Conference. Two runners-up will receive $1,000 scholarships. Winning videos will be featured on FIRE’s multimedia page alongside FIRE’s other distinguished documentaries. Video submissions must be postmarked by November 15, 2008. All rules and regulations including submission information can be found here.

High school students are invited to apply for FIRE’s “Freedom in Academia” student essay contest. Students will reflect on the two FIRE documentaries “FIRE on Campus: An Introduction to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education” and “FIRE in Action: Valdosta State University,” and write an essay explaining how college administrators violated their students’ First Amendment right to free expression. First prize is a $5,000 college scholarship and an all-expenses-paid invitation to the 2009 Campus Freedom Network Conference. Second prize is a $2,500 college scholarship. All essays must be submitted by November 20, 2008. Additional information about the contest can be found here.

FIRE’s two speech code widgets are a great way to publicize the repressive codes at universities across the country. We have just created a Speech Code Facebook application so that anyone with a Facebook account can post both speech code widgets on their profiles (here and here). The Spotlight widget provides up-to-date information on a specific school’s speech codes by linking to the school’s Spotlight page. The Speech Code of the Month widget links to FIRE’s most recent selection of the country’s most egregious speech codes. The widget updates monthly when a new speech code is selected. All it takes to put these widgets on a website or blog is to copy a few lines of code found on every school’s Spotlight page and on the Speech Code of the Month page respectively. Click here to find out more.

Posting these widgets will help students, alumni, parents, and concerned citizens get the word out about campus speech codes. If you need any more motivation to take part in this program, FIRE will send a free FIRE t-shirt to anyone who posts a Spotlight widget, and we will send a free FIRE mug to anyone who posts a Speech Code of the Month widget on their blog or website or on their Facebook page (while supplies last).

Also, as I posted on Friday, the CFN Incentive Program rewards students who work to bring liberty-minded reforms to their campuses. When students recruit new members, publish op-eds about FIRE cases and issues, host FIRE speakers, or otherwise advance the cause of free speech on campus, they earn points. As students accumulate points they earn prizes such as books, gift certificates, and BPA-free FIRE Nalgene water bottles. Students with the highest point totals will be inducted into CFN’s Prometheus Society, which guarantees acceptance to the CFN’s Summer Conference. The CFN member with the highest point total at the end of the semester will receive either a $2,500 scholarship or a technology bundle including a 42″ widescreen, flat-panel HDTV, a library of FIRE DVDs, a MacBook with a 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and a 13″ screen, a 160GB iPod classic fully loaded with FIRE videos and podcast library, and an 8.0MP Canon PowerShot Digital Camera. Second place will receive the choice of the HDTV or the Macbook, and third place will receive the choice of the iPod or the digital camera.

Only CFN members are eligible to participate in the program. Registration is free, and all new members will receive a free t-shirt just for signing up.