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Alice Dreger and Jason Riley to Headline FIRE Summer Conference

FIRE is thrilled to announce Alice Dreger and Jason Riley as the keynote speakers for our 2016 FIRE Student Network Summer Conference, which will take place from July 15–17 in Philadelphia. This year, both of the keynote speakers have faced controversy and censorship due to their published works.

Alice Dreger, Ph.D., is an American historian of medicine, sex, and science, and a mainstream nonfiction writer. Her recent memoir, Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice (Penguin Press), was named an Editors’ Choice by The New York Times Book Review and has been praised in The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Forbes, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere. The book—which argues for the importance of academic freedom and the right to pursue “dangerous” ideas—was funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship.

In 2015, Dreger resigned from her position at Northwestern University after her dean censored an article in a faculty journal she had edited, due to the article’s sexual content.

The university refused to acknowledge the censorship or to put in place protections against additional censorship, all of which contributed (along with Northwestern’s controversial Title IX investigation of professor Laura Kipnis) to FIRE naming Northwestern as one of the worst colleges for free speech that year. Dreger writes for such venues as The New York Times, The Atlantic, WIRED, the Los Angeles Times, New Statesman, and Pacific Standard, and her TED talk, “Is Anatomy Destiny?”, has been viewed nearly one million times. More information about her work is available at her website,

Jason Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and a commentator for Fox News. After joining the WSJ in 1994, he was named a senior editorial writer in 2000 and
a member of the editorial board in 2005. Riley writes opinion pieces on politics, economics, education, immigration, and race.

 Riley is the author of Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders (Gotham Books, 2008) and Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed (Encounter Books, 2014). He has also worked for USA Today and the Buffalo News. Riley holds a B.A. in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Recently, he wrote about being disinvited from a scheduled speaking engagement at Virginia Tech because of vague concerns that his opinions might upset people on campus. Riley’s writing on race relations was the focus of this concern, particularly his book Please Stop Helping Us, which criticizes government policies Riley argues have exacerbated, rather than alleviated, racial inequalities in America. After controversy over his disinvitation broke, Riley was invited back to campus by Virginia Tech president Tim Sands.

FIRE’s annual conference is a weekend-long workshop designed to teach students about their rights on campus—and to provide the tools to defend them. Our conference brings together college students from around the country and across the ideological spectrum, who care about free speech and due process and are interested in promoting them on their campuses.

The conference is free to attend and open to current students at U.S. colleges and universities, including graduate students and incoming freshmen. Housing and meals will be provided. Travel reimbursement for up to $300 per student will be available to help students travel to and from Philadelphia.

For more information, visit Spaces are filling up quickly, so apply today!

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