Introducing FIRE’s summer interns: Part 1

June 29, 2022

It’s been about a month since FIRE’s summer undergraduate interns started working with us. In celebration of them and their efforts, we would like to share a little bit about each intern in a two-blog series. Please enjoy today’s post about five of our ten fantastic interns. Tomorrow, we will post the second installment.

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Emily Orland

Emily is a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in journalism and history with a minor in Education. 

What inspired your passion for FIRE’s issues?

I’m excited to learn more about how to engage in civil discourse and gain a deeper understanding of why free speech is integral to democracy.

I’ve spent the past three years writing for UNC’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. That work, in tandem with my coursework in the journalism school, stoked my passion for freedom of the press and the protection of student journalists. I know what it feels like to publish something that is critical of an administration and fear the repercussions, so I am passionate about every journalist feeling empowered and knowing their First Amendment rights. When I took a media law course, I became even more interested in the purpose and function of free speech in our society. I started paying more attention to infringements upon academic freedom at UNC-Chapel Hill and other universities. I became interested in how FIRE protects civil liberties and influences speech culture on campus.

What do you hope to learn from FIRE’s internship?

I hope to learn the ins-and-outs of First Amendment law and how FIRE specifically works to defend student journalists. I am on the fence about attending law school, and I hope that exposure to FIRE’s work and its cases will help me decide if that is a path I’d like to pursue. I’m excited to learn more about how to engage in civil discourse and gain a deeper understanding of why free speech is integral to democracy.

Samuel Ben-Ur

Sam is a rising sophomore at Tufts University, majoring in economics and political science.

I’ve been passionate about free speech ever since I read “The Coddling of the American Mind.”

What inspired your passion for FIRE’s issues?

I’ve been passionate about free speech ever since I read “The Coddling of the American Mind.”  It remains my favorite book, and once it opened my eyes to the problems with free speech on campus I was inspired to make a free speech club at my high school. I’ve been passionate about free speech ever since and have wanted to do this internship for about three years, so I’m incredibly excited to be here.

What do you hope to learn from FIRE’s internship?

I hope to be heavily involved with all aspects of FIRE’s work but am definitely looking forward to Campus Rights Advocacy projects the most. I’m very into litigation and think that these projects will be a great way to get started in that field.

William Harris

William is a rising junior at Haverford College, majoring in history with minors in Spanish and History of Art. 

What do you hope to learn from FIRE’s internship?

This summer, I hope to learn more about how FIRE advances its mission through the courts since I have yet to gain much academic exposure to constitutional law and don’t have any professional experience with litigation. I also hope to gain further insight into how FIRE persuades free speech skeptics, and I look forward to gaining valuable skills in facilitating intergroup dialogue by engaging with FIRE’s “Let’s Talk” program. In addition, I am very excited for the speaker series. As an avid consumer of FIRE’s “So to Speak” podcast, I have become a big fan of Nadine Strossen and Jonathan Rauch’s arguments concerning the mutually reinforcing nature of civil liberties and civil rights, so I hope to hear more from them.

Outside of your work at FIRE, what is one thing that you hope to do in Philadelphia this summer? Why?

As an avid runner on Haverford’s Cross Country and Track teams, I am looking forward to a summer full of training! When I’m not running through the streets surrounding campus, at the Wissahickon, or on the Schuylkill River Trail, I’m hoping to get into Philly to explore its excellent museums. Although I’ve been to the PMA plenty of times, I have never been to the Barnes and am really hoping to go!

Melanie Nolan

Melanie is a rising senior at Skidmore College, majoring in English and specializing in creative writing, with a minor in Intergroup Relations.

I find free speech advocacy to be essential, both to express controversial and unpopular views, but also to critique them.

What inspired your passion for FIRE’s issues?

As a writer and an English major, I have always been fascinated and enthralled by the written word. Writing is such a powerful tool for change and for expression, but that can be the case only so long as the words written can be read. Book bans have always been something that disturbed me, and I spent one summer in middle school reading every banned book I could find. Today, I find free speech advocacy to be essential, both to express controversial and unpopular views, but also to critique them. Freedom of speech gives us the tools to not only fight for ideas we love, but also express our horror at ones we do not. Free speech is the ultimate neutrality and the path to better conversation, within and outside of the classroom and campus.

What do you hope to learn from FIRE’s internship?

I hope to get closer to the people and ideas that allow this organization to thrive, or… light the FIRE, if you will. I have been passionate about the law and advocacy my whole life. Someday, I hope to be the first person in my family to attend law school, and I hope to get closer to First Amendment law and observe the kind of culture that FIRE cultivates.

John Ivers

John is a rising senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in legal studies. 

What do you hope to learn from FIRE’s internship?

I hope to learn how to take the principles of FIRE and make them more accessible on my campus when I return in the fall – whether that be in my Student Defenders group or in other avenues where free speech may be challenged.

Outside of your work at FIRE, what is one thing that you hope to do in Philadelphia this summer? Why?

Cheese… Steaks. I am a regional food enthusiast and the Philly Cheesesteak is one of my favorite regional foods. Thus, I want to try as many cheesesteaks as possible during my 10 weeks. My goal is to have a comprehensive ranking of all of the cheesesteaks that I try while I am in town.