Shelli Gimelstein is a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is majoring in International Relations with a minor in Creative Writing. She is a senior staff writer and summer news editor at the Daily Pennsylvanian student newspaper, and she serves as vice president of Penn for Youth Debate, a volunteer organization that promotes debate education in Philadelphia high schools and middle schools.
Of her decision to come to FIRE as an intern this summer, Shelli writes:
One of the most valuable parts of my college experience has been the constant exposure to different points of view through the classes I have taken and the people I have met. I have greatly benefited from the dynamic intellectual environment at Penn, and I believe that FIRE’s work ensures that all students can experience this exchange of ideas despite university administrations’ efforts to limit certain forms of speech.
I first learned about FIRE while writing a Daily Pennsylvanian article about the history of free speech at Penn, in light of campus controversy over an anti-Israel conference run by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement that was held at Penn in February. After contacting FIRE to learn more about Penn’s free speech ranking and various incidents that took place at Penn over the decades, I grew interested in FIRE’s mission and its particular relevance to me as a student journalist. Although I am fortunate to write for an independent newspaper that is free from the university’s control, many schools prevent students from expressing their views, and many students do not know that the First Amendment protects their right to free expression.
Since FIRE’s work directly impacts the freedoms I have as a college student, I am glad to have the opportunity to help extend them to other students across the country. As an intern at FIRE, I hope to learn more about the legal aspects of free speech so that I can educate both myself and others about the importance of defending these rights in the face of speech codes and other measures designed to restrict access to ideas—a fundamental part of university life that I believe students cannot afford to lose.
Welcome, Shelli! To help support FIRE’s internship program, visit thefire.org/interns.