Kelsey Curtis is a rising senior at Colgate University, where she is pursuing a major in English and a minor in political science. During her time at Colgate, Kelsey has explored her interest in community service by participating in activities such as the Consumer Bankruptcy Law Project. She is currently Vice President of Public Relations for Colgate’s chapter of Delta Delta Delta sorority and rides for the Western Equestrian Team.
On why she decided to intern for FIRE, Kelsey says:
In my junior year at Colgate, I began to explore my interest in law in more depth. Through courses such as "Foundations of Political Thought" and "Constitutional Law" I discovered that I had a passion for the defense of civil liberties. I was instantly attracted to the philosophy of John Stuart Mill as my classes examined issues regarding freedom of speech and the libertarian perspective. I quickly sought a way to learn more about the protection of these American ideals. My search for a summer internship led me to the FIRE Internship Program, an opportunity that seemed perfectly tailored to my goals of contributing to the defense of students’ essential rights and gaining a better understanding of civil liberties on college campuses.
In learning more about the work done by FIRE, I learned more about my own university experience in turn. I did not much consider the degree of freedom of speech and thought on campus when applying to and visiting schools. I had assumed, like much of the American public, that colleges and universities must be some of the most liberated institutions in the nation, allowing for the greatest freedom of debate and discussion. As I have discovered by examining FIRE’s cases, I was mistaken. I am now aware that my own university, among many others, has a Spotlight rating of red, the worst speech code rating a college can receive from FIRE. This means that Colgate University has policies that substantially restrict one of the primary freedoms of United States citizens, the freedom of speech. One would think that there would be indignation and protest on campus as a result of these facts, but in fact many students are not even aware of the extent of their rights, or that there is any problem to be addressed on campus. What I hope to take away from my work at FIRE is not only a personal understanding of the issues of free speech, due process, and freedom of conscience, but also the knowledge and skills to create a heightened campus awareness at Colgate of the infringement on our constitutional rights. I want to inspire Colgate’s students to take responsibility for their freedom by actively ensuring its protection.
Freedoms of speech, association, and thought are of vital importance on college campuses, as they are essential to the university’s function as a place of growth and learning. The suppression of speech, or even thought, in the name of political correctness or vague ideas such as "multiculturalism," is entirely counterintuitive to the goals of higher education. One must allow all thoughts to enter the marketplace of ideas so that they may be debated in an open forum, for this is the only way to discover truth. In working as an intern at FIRE, I plan to help achieve this ideal for America’s students and educators.
Welcome, Kelsey! To support FIRE’s internship program, visit thefire.org/interns.