ISU hosting webcast on free speech

October 13, 2004

By Kathleen Fitzgerald at The Daily Vidette

A live webcast sponsored by the Dean of Students Office will take place today from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Bowling and Billiards Center Activity Room.

Rick Olshak, associate dean of students, said the webcast, titled "Free Speech and Civility on Campus," will discuss the ongoing debate about free speech issues on college campuses.

"We hope that we can both protect free speech and maintain a civil community for students," he said.

It is important to understand when a person’s free speech may infringe on someone else," Olshak said.

The two featured panelists for the webcast are Gary Pavela, director of judicial programs and student ethical development at the University of Maryland, and David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Pavela is an expert on free speech and academic integrity, Olshak said.

Brent Paterson, associate vice president of student affairs, said these panelists specialize in free speech and although they might have different views on the issue, they will bring forth additional information that will be helpful.

In past years, he said colleges have been moving away from speech codes because they are too broad. Many of the court cases were overturned.

There have been a number of cases involving disorderly conduct, when the correct disciplinary action was not taken, he added.

Paterson said court cases that have taken place in the past have differed on what they have decided is legally permissible.

"It is important that both students and faculty understand the legal implications – what is permissible and what is not permissible in terms of student expression," he said.

It will be helpful for students to understand how the rules for ISU free speech developed as well, Olshak said.

All students, he said, should attend the webcast and he hopes students who do come will learn to understand both perspectives.

It is also important for students to understand why there are different points of view.

"I’m hoping that people will understand both sides," Olshak added.

The webcast is a combined effort of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and the Association for Student Judicial Affairs, Olshak said.

Paterson said ASJA is an organization that enforces student discipline across the country.

NASPA is a professional association headquartered in Washington D.C. that handles student affairs on campuses. Both are a part of Community Rights and Responsibilities.

Schools: Illinois State University