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FIRE Announces 2016 Prometheus Society Inductees

We’re pleased to announce that five new students were inducted into FIRE’s Prometheus Society at our recent Student Network Conference. Inclusion in the Prometheus Society is the highest award FIRE gives to students in recognition of outstanding work promoting free expression on campus.

This year’s crop of standout students—Andrew Zeller from Purdue University, Erin Dunne from the University of Michigan, Michael Kriete from the University of South Carolina, Zach Wood from Williams College, and Savannah Lindquist from Temple University—all participated in a wide variety of activism toward a shared goal of championing speech at their college or university.

From left, Lindquist, Kriete, Dunne, Zeller, and Wood at the Prometheus Society induction ceremony during FIRE's 2016 Student Network Conference in Philadelphia.

As a member of the Purdue University Graduate Student Government, Andrew Zeller worked tirelessly to change Purdue’s speech codes. After helping to pass a joint resolution between the undergraduate and graduate student governments, Andrew collaborated with FIRE and Purdue officials working to change five speech code policies, earning Purdue a “green light” rating from FIRE. Andrew also worked with Purdue’s president, Mitch Daniels, toward the successful adoption of the Chicago Statement. Furthermore, Andrew organized and moderated a panel with Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago Law School and FIRE’s Azhar Majeed about the importance of protecting free expression on campus. Andrew’s work serves as an important example of the power of working with administrators to defend students’ free speech rights.

Erin Dunne speaks at Hash Bash 2016.

Erin Dunne is involved in campus activism with several organizations at the University of Michigan, and she recently completed the FIRE summer internship program. She is involved in Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and she also writes for The Michigan Review, an independent student newspaper. A staunch advocate for student rights, she hosted “Know Your Rights” seminars with local attorneys and law enforcement officials and even organized a free speech wall with other student groups on her campus.

Michael Kriete, left, with fellow plaintiff Ross Abbott.

As president of the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapter at the University of South Carolina, Michael Kriete helped organize a free speech event this past November in a USC “free speech zone.” The event highlighted 11 instances of campus censorship nationwide, most of which required FIRE’s intervention. After the event, USC received three bias incident reports from students complaining about some of the posters, including the objection that one was “triggering.”  The university investigated and required that the content of each poster be justified. After the investigation, Michael led the YAL chapter in deciding to stand up for the rights of their fellow students by joining a First Amendment lawsuit against the university, marking the twelfth lawsuit filed as part of FIRE’s undefeated Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.

Zach Wood is president of the student program “Uncomfortable Learning” at Williams College in Massachusetts. The program aims to “provide countering or unheard opinions on a variety of issues, all with the goal to facilitate greater critical analysis of our own views and encourage diversity of thought.” Ironically, Williams College President Adam Falk forbade Uncomfortable Learning from hosting John Derbyshire to speak on campus because Derbyshire’s speech might make students on campus uncomfortable. Zach’s outspoken defense of freedom of speech, especially in the face of the Williams administration’s hostility, serves as an inspiration to all students facing adversity on campus.

Finally, Savannah Lindquist is a Pennsylvania state chair for YAL and president of Temple University’s YAL chapter. During the past academic year, Savannah has organized five free speech events on Temple’s campus. She distributed pocket constitutions that included additional information about the First Amendment, hosted a “free speech ball” event, collected over 160 student signatures to endorse the Chicago Statement, and screened Can We Take a Joke? to more than 40 students.

FIRE’s Prometheus Society takes its name from the Titan from Greek mythology who stole fire from the gods on Mount Olympus and gave it to humankind. These five students are worthy inductees into FIRE’s Prometheus Society for their hard work and dedication to ensuring the fire for free expression continues to burn on today’s campuses.

If you’d like to get started in campus activism, check out the FIRE Student Network and find out how you can make a difference.

Congratulations to all of our newest inductees!

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