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Time is running out to enter FIRE’s Free Speech Essay Contest

High school juniors and seniors: Your holiday calendar is surely filling up, but there’s still time to write an essay on the importance of free speech in higher education for FIRE’s Free Speech Essay Contest. We’ll be awarding $20,000 in scholarship prizes, with $10,000 going to the first place essay writer, so you’ll definitely want to enter. With just over two weeks before the deadline — the contest ends at midnight on Dec. 31 — it’s time to check this important task off your end-of-year to-do list.

You can find last year’s top prize winning entry here. This year’s winners will be announced by Jan. 31.

This year’s contest asks you to familiarize yourself with FIRE’s work defending and sustaining individual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. In addition to defending the rights of students and faculty, FIRE works to educate students and the general public on the necessity of free speech and its importance to our democratic society.

To get yourself in the proper writing mood, consider that the freedom of speech, enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, is a foundational American right. Nowhere is that right more important than on our college campuses, where the free flow of ideas and the clash of opposing views advance knowledge and promote human progress. It is on our college campuses, however, where some of the most serious violations of free speech occur, and where students are regularly censored simply because their expression might offend others. We provide several of FIRE’s favorite videos on the essay contest page to get you better acquainted with these threats.

Then, do your best to tackle this writing prompt in 800–1000 words: “Drawing on the above videos and any other resources available on FIRE’s website, explain why free speech is so important to higher education, and why censorship undermines the ideals of liberal education and a free society.”

FIRE’s Free Speech Essay Contest is open to juniors and seniors in U.S. high schools, including home-schooled students and U.S. citizens attending schools overseas.

Don’t delay—enter today! We look forward to reading your submission!

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