Five Reasons to Attend the 2015 FIRE Student Network Conference

June 3, 2015

Every summer, passionate students join FIRE staff and guest speakers for a weekend of education, training, and fun. The FIRE Student Network Conference is the best opportunity to get a crash course in student rights and learn the most effective strategies for securing them on campus. If you want to improve the state of free speech at your university, there really is no substitute.

Here are the top five reasons to attend the 2015 FIRE Student Network Conference, in no particular order:


For the past several years, the conference has been held at the lovely Bryn Mawr College campus in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, about a half hour outside of Philadelphia. This year, we’re taking the conference to the city! With space reserved at both the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, we’ll be right across the river from downtown Philly. So grab a cheesesteak and check out the Liberty Bell during Saturday afternoon’s break in activities. And don’t worry about the weather; it’s always sunny.

Nadine Strossen

We have the distinguished honor of being joined on Friday evening by our first keynote speaker, Nadine Strossen. Strossen has written, lectured, and practiced extensively in the areas of constitutional law, civil liberties, and international human rights.  As president of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1991 through 2008—the first woman and youngest person ever to fill that role—she helped to nearly double the organization’s membership. When Strossen stepped down as ACLU president in 2008, three Supreme Court Justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, and David Souter) participated in her farewell/tribute luncheon.

She has commented frequently on legal issues in the national media, having appeared on virtually every national news program. Twice named one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal, Strossen is now the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law at New York Law School.

Radley Balko

On Saturday night, we’ll be joined by our second keynote speaker, Radley Balko. Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war, and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He was previously a senior writer and investigative reporter at The Huffington Post. He is the author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, and his work has been cited by the Supreme Court of the United States and the Mississippi Supreme Court. He also writes about the music and culture of Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives. A graduate of Indiana University, Balko has also been a senior editor at Reason magazine, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, and an opinion columnist for

Practical Breakouts

This year, we’re shaking things up. That means fewer lectures and more interactive, hands-on breakout workshops with FIRE staff. We’re getting our hands dirty to make sure you come away from the conference with more than just an understanding of student rights—you’ll come away with an individualized strategy for fighting censorship. Whether you’re a student journalist, activist, or student government member, or just taking classes, you’ll learn how you can make a difference on campus.


What’s the best part about the FIRE Student Network Conference? You! Well, you and all the other passionate and active students we bring together. You’ll meet people from all over the country, from tiny liberal arts colleges to massive state universities, all united by the goal of restoring student rights on campus. Let your fellow students’ stories inspire you, and share your own advice with your peers. With socials each night, there will be plenty of opportunities to have fun with your new friends.