Director, Individual Rights Defense Program
Peter Bonilla is the associate director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at FIRE, responsible for managing the cases of several hundred students and faculty each year, and going to bat with numerous university administrations. Peter came to FIRE from another industry in which free speech protections are a must: theater. From when he graduated college in 2005 until he joined FIRE in 2008, Peter was the literary manager of Philadelphia’s InterAct Theatre Company, helping develop new plays with contemporary political, social, and cultural themes. His playwriting has also garnered him a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and his first play was produced to acclaim in 2011. He lectures to student groups and at conferences around the country on the current threats to free expression on campus, drawing on the several hundred student and faculty cases he manages each year and offering advice to students on how to defend their rights.
- “‘Harvard Crimson’ Column: Time to Get Rid of Academic Freedom,” February 21, 2014
- “Yes, Resident Assistants Have Free Speech Rights Too,” August 21, 2012
- “6 Tips To Protect Your Rights in College,” September 16, 2011
- “Gainesville State College President Censors Faculty Art Critical of Confederate Heritage,” March 8, 2011
LIBERTY IN PERIL: SPEECH CODES ON OUR NATION’S CAMPUSES
This talk discusses the widespread disregard for free speech on our nation’s campuses using both humorous and serious examples of speech that universities have banned and continue to ban on their campuses. Peter explains in layman’s terms why speech codes are unconstitutional and how students can fight back and demand their rights.
THE FIRST AMENDMENT ON CAMPUS: A USER’S GUIDE
This talk gives an overview of how students’ free speech rights are routinely violated on college campuses across the country. The talk details the history of free speech on campus and describes the biggest current threats to student rights on campus: overzealous campus censors and restrictive speech codes. Plus, the session will offer tools and advice on how attendees can proactively take a stand for free speech on campus.
FREE SPEECH ON YOUR CAMPUS: REAL STUDENTS, REAL SOLUTIONS
This interactive session teaches students about their rights on campus and how to defend them by going through real-life scenarios of campus censorship and how those students fought back. Attendees will learn proven arguments and strategies they can use to defeat would-be censors at their own schools.
*Other topics may be available upon request