Freedom of Speech

By: John Shebell, For the Clock

js1467@plymouth.edu

On September 16th, 2021, a man named Chike Uzuegbunam came to Plymouth State’s campus and began voicing his opinions on abortion. He had made statements that had hurt and offended many students and employees. Some students and employees questioned how he could be on campus and if it was even legal. While not everyone agrees with his statements, and his opinions don’t reflect the University’s values, it is imperative to understand that he has the right to say these things. On September 17th, 2021, an email was sent out to all members of the Plymouth State community discussing what had occurred on the 16th—explaining the vitality of the first amendment right and how it has an influence on society. Part of the email reads, “Freedom of speech, expression, and assembly are fundamental rights of all persons and are central to our mission and purpose as a public educational institution, which supports a robust exchange of ideas and the protection of academic freedom. In fulfilling its mission, the University recognizes that free inquiry and free expression are indispensable components in the examination of ideas. Plymouth State is proud to uphold these rights, while at the same time recognizing that this may be unsettling at times to some in our community.” Plymouth State continues to practice our freedoms of speech, expression, and assembly and wants to create an understanding of these rights for members of our University. 

On November 3rd Nadine Strossen, a leading expert in constitutional law (and former president of the American Civil Liberties Union), held ‘A Campus Conversation on Free Speech’ for PSU community members. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a non-profit organization that defends and preserves all individual rights and liberties that are guaranteed to every person in the United States from the Constitution and the laws of the U.S.  Nadine is often doing public presentations that discuss the freedoms and rights granted to us as citizens. Visiting over 500 university campuses, Nadine works very hard to inform members of society by answering questions and educating students about these aspects of our world. It is essential as a society that we continue to practice these rights but to be mindful that all opinions and statements can affect those around us. Plymouth State is taking a step in the right direction by allowing students to learn more about our natural rights as they begin to provide our community with professionals in these fields to educate us.