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10 Ways You Can Promote Free Speech On Your Campus
Join the Fire Student Network (FSN)
The FSN is a broad coalition that brings together college students and faculty who care about protecting civil liberties on campus. As an FSN member, you’ll receive email updates with invitations to FIRE events; information about opportunities such as our “FIRE Summer Internship”; tips for activism; and alerts detailing what’s going on your campus, in your state, and nationally. FSN members are the first to know about ways to defend student rights on their campuses and beyond.
Call Attention to Your School’s Speech Codes
As of 2016, about half of all American universities and colleges maintain policies that violate students’ free speech rights. Being aware of these problematic policies is the first step toward changing them and spreading awareness about them on your campus.
Hand out Pocket Constitutions
Passing out pocket-sized Constitutions on campus is the perfect way to start a conversation with your school’s student body, faculty, and administration about student rights. If you are at a public university, be sure to let students know that they are protected by the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. Order your very own pocket Constitution today and check out these tips so that you can make the most of this resource.
Write an Op-ed
By voicing your opinions on any issue, you can ignite discussion on your campus and flex your free speech muscles. Op-eds are an awesome platform for urging your school to adopt the Chicago Statement or to eliminate restrictive (and possibly unconstitutional) free speech zone policies. Check out our tips for advice on how to submit your op-ed to a campus newspaper or professional publication.
Start an Independent Student Newspaper
Does your school have an independent, student-run newspaper? If not, start one! Independent newspapers don’t have to deal with issues of administrative oversight and censorship, which makes them an excellent place to have an open conversation on campus.
Host an Event
Events are a great way to educate your campus community about the importance of free speech and due process rights on campus or call attention to and gather support for any cause. Consider sponsoring debates or screenings of the hilarious documentary “Can We Take a Joke?”. Check out our event guide for more ideas and tips for a successful event.
Bring a Speaker to Campus
Invite a FIRE staffer to speak at your school to discuss free speech or due process issues on your campus. Alternatively, think about bringing politically diverse speakers to campus so that you and your campus community have the opportunity to hear from a variety of perspectives on important topics.
Start a Student Group on Campus
Establishing a club is one way to promote the values of free speech, open dialogue, and student rights on campus. Depending on your school’s policies, registered student organizations might have the ability to reserve space in university buildings, secure funding, and invite outside speakers.
Organize a Protest
One tried and true way to make your voice heard on campus is to lead or take part in a protest. Time and again, college campus protests have led the charge for social change. Check out FIRE’s FAQ For Student Protests on Campus to learn more about your rights when participating in a protest.
Request FIRE’s Student Guides
FIRE has published a series of concise and easy to understand guides on free speech and due process issues on campus. You can request copies of FIRE’s Guides or read them online to learn more about civil liberties on America’s colleges and universities.