FIRE Student Network Conference

  • Conference dates: July 15-17, 2016. Applications are due by July 1.
  • Meet FIRE staff and fellow student advocates for free speech from across the country.
  • Learn strategies and techniques for creating real change on campus.
About the conference Keynote Speakers Location & DatesTestimonials

What People Are Saying

“I would highly, highly recommend this conference to friends. I learned so much and I think more students ought to learn what their rights truly are.

“While the sessions and speeches were terrific, the biggest strength of the program was the outstanding opportunity to get to know other students working on their campuses to expand student rights.”

“I would recommend this conference in a heartbeat! It was a terrifically rewarding and intellectually stimulating weekend and I am so grateful to have been able to attend.”

“As was pointed out at the conference — administrators often get away with their policies because students don’t know what their rights are. Education is the most important aspect of progress in free speech.

About the conference Keynote Speakers Location & DatesTestimonials


Alice Dreger, PhD, is an American historian of medicine, sex, and science, and a mainstream nonfiction writer. Her recent memoir, Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice (Penguin Press) was named an Editors’ Choice by the The New York Times Book Review and has been praised in the The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Forbes, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere. The book—which argues for the importance of academic freedom and the right to pursue “dangerous” ideas—was funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship, the application of which was supported by Steven Pinker and Dan Savage, who have since praised the resultant book. Awarded the 2016 literary prize by the Society of Midland Authors, Galileo’s Middle Finger was also momentarily a finalist in the LGBT non-fiction category for the Lambda Literary Prize, but that status was rescinded in a flurry of activist irony.

An essay by Dreger on talking to children honestly about sex was recently censored by the site Everyday Feminism in a move Meghan Murray of Feminist Current deemed modern-day witch-hunting. In 2015, Dreger resigned her position from Northwestern University after her dean censored an article she had edited and published about a blowjob in 1978 between a paralyzed man and a nurse with whom he had grown close. The University refused to acknowledge the censorship or to put in place protections against additional censorship, all of which contributed (along with the Kipnis case) to FIRE naming Northwestern one of the worst colleges for free speech. Dreger writes for such venues as The New York Times, The Atlantic, WIRED, the Los Angeles Times, New Statesman, and Pacific Standard, and her TED talk, “Is Anatomy Destiny?”, has been viewed nearly one million times. More information about her work is available at her website,

Jason Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and a commentator for Fox News. After joining the Journal in 1994, he was named a senior editorial writer in 2000 and a member of the editorial board in 2005. Riley writes opinion pieces on politics, economics, education, immigration, and race. A frequent public speaker, he is a longtime commentator for Fox News. Riley is the author of Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders (2008), which argues for a more free-market-oriented U.S. immigration policy; and Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed (2014), which discusses the track record of government efforts to help the black underclass. He has also worked for USA Today and the Buffalo News. Riley holds a B.A. in English from SUNY-Buffalo. Recently, he was disinvited from a scheduled speaking engagement at Virginia Tech because of vague concerns that his opinions might upset people on campus. Riley’s scholarship on race-relations was the focus of this concern, particularly his book Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.

About the conference Keynote Speakers Location & DatesTestimonials

Location & Dates

  • We will begin with a reception on Friday afternoon and end with lunch on Sunday.
  • Housing and meals will be provided for all attendees.
  • Students must attend the full conference to be eligible for a travel reimbursement.
  • We welcome current students at U.S. colleges and universities, including graduate students and incoming freshmen.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University, National Constitution Center
July 15–17, 2016

About the conference Keynote Speakers Location & DatesTestimonials