We are pleased to introduce the newest member of the FIRE team: Ari Cohn. Ari is an attorney from Chicago, and thanks to the generosity of Mayer Brown LLP, Ari is able to join FIRE as a legal fellow until he begins work at the firm’s Chicago office this fall. Ari graduated cum laude from Cornell Law School in 2010, and from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007, where he studied political science and sociology.
Here are Ari’s own words to describe what drew him to FIRE:
I’ve always been kind of a First Amendment nerd. And I think that exposure to academic freedom issues actually helped develop my First Amendment fascination and led me to develop a more nuanced understanding as well.
I had a really great professor at the University of Illinois who would often spend substantial time extolling the virtues of the ‘marketplace of ideas’ and lecturing us on the academic freedom issues of the day. He would eventually become a mentor and a role model, and often challenged my ideas and encouraged me to go out and find others who would likewise challenge everything I thought I knew. Throughout the years I found that I’ve learned the most when following his advice and truly engaging in the entire marketplace of ideas.
Unfortunately, a number of my colleagues over the years have had egregious violations of their constitutional rights visited upon them by institutions of higher education. It never fails to incense me, both because of my commitment to our Constitution, and also because of my unwavering belief that freedom and liberty in education is absolutely essential in order for it to achieve its goals. I have benefited greatly not only from my own ability to think and speak freely, but also from the ability of those around me to do so as well. It is that environment in which I believe true learning occurs, and it is that ideal that I hope to help FIRE preserve for those who come after me.
I am thrilled to be able to join the ranks of FIRE, even if just for a short while, and help this incredibly important organization. I’ve been a follower of FIRE for years, and it is a privilege to be able to call myself a part of it, and an honor to be considered a colleague of these enthusiastic and dedicated individuals. I look forward to helping out for the coming months, and also to remaining in a close working relationship even after I’ve entered the private sector.