This week, FIRE welcomed seven outstanding undergraduate students to our 2014 FIRE Summer Internship Program! Over the next two weeks, FIRE will introduce readers to our new interns each day on The Torch.
Stephanie Keaveney is a rising senior at Southern Oregon University (SOU), where she majors in political science and applied economics. Stephanie comes to FIRE with an impressive resume, having served as Vice President and Chief Justice of her student government as well as the resident student on the Board of Trustees of her university’s charitable foundation.
Here’s what Stephanie has to say about working as an intern at FIRE:
The university system in America has long been considered a bastion of free thought. Universities have represented a place where students could speak their minds, without fear of undue scorn heaped upon them, in an environment where safety did not mean extreme restrictions on speech, thought, or opinion. Unfortunately, in an increasingly litigious and restrictive school environment, the administrative scrutinizers devoted to controlling the words and thoughts of students across the country pose a dangerous threat to over two hundred years of freedom in religion, assembly, expression and petition. It is this encroachment on our most fundamental of rights in the university system that has driven me to work as an intern with FIRE.
I first became aware of FIRE a couple years ago when I read an article by its co-founder Harvey Silverglate on “The Criminalization of Almost Everything,” hosted by the Cato Institute. By following up on other work Silverglate had done, and what he and Alan Charles Kors had created with FIRE, I found a mission that truly spoke to me. At my school, politically correct language and ideas can be enforced at all levels. When I worked as a student conduct board member, I realized how truly entrenched the nature of these restrictions were. Many students I worked with were unaware of their individual First Amendment rights, and the various ways in which those rights were violated on a daily basis. It did not seem that enough people in the community fought for these rights.
It was this eerie realization that brings me here today. Students, professors, and all members of the academic process today need to understand their rights, fight for them, and perpetuate the culture of individual liberty in thought and action. Through FIRE, I hope to make a difference for students across the nation. The battle for personal liberty and freedom is ongoing, and as an intern with FIRE, I will be on its front lines.
Welcome, Stephanie! Be sure to check back on The Torch this week to see more from our new interns!