On Monday, seven undergraduate interns began work at FIRE’s Philadelphia office. They will spend the summer helping FIRE prepare for the fall as well as studying the art of advancing liberty on campus. Over the next week, we’ll introduce each intern to our Torch readers.
Cynthia Bell is a rising junior at Seton Hall University, where she majors in English with a double minor in Political Science and Philosophy. She serves as the Editor-in-Chief for The Liberty Bell, an independent political newspaper at Seton Hall, and the Vice President for Seton Hall University Students for Individual Liberty. She writes:
I was first introduced to FIRE as a high school senior when I watched the documentary Indoctrinate U. Here, for the first time, I learned about the travesty of censorship sweeping the world of higher education. I learned that FIRE helped defend students across the nation who were often punished wrongly for vocalizing their beliefs simply because they were "unpopular" or "offensive."
While my school is a private, Catholic university, and therefore not bound to follow the First Amendment like a public university, its mission states that "[Seton Hall is] dedicated to allowing vigorous and open academic discourse and intellectual inquiry, including speech that espouses controversial ideas." Although it is arguable whether Seton Hall’s administration has indeed lived up to its mission, there is no argument in my mind that genuine, earnest free speech and open dialogue should be promoted at every college campus. Too many students silence themselves for fear of reprisal, and too many are punished for simply speaking what they believe. A college career is supposed to be a time to learn, discuss and debate different ideas and opinions.
Since entering college my interest in the First Amendment and constitutional law has increased. My club, SHUSIL (Seton Hall University Students for Individual Liberty), brought a FIRE speaker to campus in an attempt to educate other students about their right to free speech on campus. As an intern at FIRE this summer, I look forward to helping promote these ideals on college campuses nationwide.