Freedom Of Speech Becomes Debatable Topic On Campus

March 4, 2015

By Anthony Antoine at IllinoisHomepage.net

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS — The UI made yet another list, but many aren’t so sure the school needs this type of recognition. The university was named one of the worst colleges for free speech.

Some of the biggest changes in our country are the results of people utilizing the right to voice their opinion. With some tough conversations taking place at UI this past year, one department is reinforcing the importance of the First Amendment.

The Journalism Department at UI launched a new series called “Free Speech: Rights and Responsibilities in a Digital Age.” Leaders brought in a musical group to offer a tribute to the First Amendment.

“That’s what this conversation is all about, to start a conversation on this campus that helps elevate the understanding of the public.”

“What we want to do is attract people’s attention and put something on their minds.”

Ironically enough, this performance comes at a time when the university is accused of violating someone’s freedom of speech. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education put the UI on its Worst Campus for Free Speech list, citing the controversy surrounding Steven Salaita as the reason behind it. He’s the professor who had his offer from the university pulled after posting pro-Palestinian comments on Twitter.

“We have to adjust our understanding of speech with respect to how quickly messages are put out there and how enduring they are because, once you put something out on the internet, it is there forever.”

The university released a statement disagreeing with the findings of the group:

Anyone who has witnessed the vigorous and passionate debates that have taken place
and are still taking place on our campus would appreciate that there is plenty of space
for freedom of expression and opinion.

“What we hope they take away from this event is not only the importance of free speech and expression, but also the responsibility we have to exercise.”

Chancellor Phyllis Wise attended the performance. It’s the first of many events for the Journalism Deportment. It plans to continue the conversation with another event in the fall.

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