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FIRE to Award $15,000 in Scholarships for Student Essay Contest

FIRE is pleased to announce its second annual "Freedom in Academia" essay contest. FIRE's mission states in part that we exist "to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to rights on our campuses." For this purpose, high school students from across the country who will be graduating in 2010 and attending college the following fall are invited to write an in-depth essay explaining why free speech and First Amendment rights are crucial to higher education and how abuses of these rights are contrary to the purpose of a university education.

Last year's contest was a huge success, garnering 1,500 essay submissions from students across the country. Read the winning essays: first place, second place, and honorable mention.

Students are asked to visit FIRE's multimedia page and watch two short FIRE documentaries: FIRE in Action: Valdosta State University and Think What We Think...Or Else: Thought Control on the American Campus. Students will see how university administrations at Valdosta State University and the University of Delaware stifled the constitutional rights of their students to freedom of expression and freedom of conscience. Students should also watch some of FIRE's other documentaries and read FIRE's mission and posts on The Torch to get a good sense of FIRE's goals and activities.

Students then are asked to write 7001200 words explaining how the universities in the videos betrayed their purpose as a "marketplace of ideas" and violated the First Amendment freedoms of their students. Deadline for entry is November 6, 2009. Winners will be announced by December 11, 2009.

This year, FIRE will award twice as much scholarship money as we did last year. One first-place winner will receive $5,000, two second-place winners will receive $2,500, and five runners-up will receive $1,000.

Essays should be submitted via e-mail to or via snail mail to:

Attn: Essay Scholarship Contest
601 Walnut Street, Suite 510
Philadelphia, PA 19106

To view the complete rules and regulations for the contest, please click here.

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