UW–Stout’s Second Annual Free Speech Week

Mackenzie Peterson – 

The University of Wisconsin–Stout recently celebrated their second annual Free Speech Week, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation (CSII). This took place Oct. 15-18.

Free Speech Week is an event that happens every third week in Oct. to raise public awareness of free speech and to celebrate that freedom. The events took place in the Memorial Student Center (MSC)  and Robert S. Swanson Library. It was open to the community of Menomonie to participate in along with students.

Not only is this week dedicated to the importance of raising awareness for free speech,  it’s a time for all different types of organizations, schools, and individuals to get involved and exercise that right.

As freedom of speech is a right that all the students and locals share, this week had sessions that everyone could be involved in. There were six sessions held throughout the week. These included Free Speech and Anti-Orthodoxy on Oct. 15, Great First Amendment Cases on Oct. 16, Student Free Speech in the UW on Oct. 16, Student Panel: Selma Civil Liberties Project on Oct. 17, Debating Hate Speech and the First Amendment on Oct. 17, and Free Speech and Originalist Jurisprudence on Oct. 18.

In these sessions, students, professors, guest speakers and locals were able to share their perspectives on certain topics in a respectful environment as well as listen to other’s perspectives and ask questions.

Natasja McAdory, a sophomore majoring in apparel design, says that Free Speech Week is an important event here on campus and may give students a sense of comfort by speaking out. She believes that it deserves more recognition.

One session that took place during the week was the Student Panel: Selma Civil Liberties Project. This discussion was moderated by Jim Handley, who teaches Peace Studies and Geography on campus at UW–Stout. Students and locals were able to hear from five panellists about their first hand experiences regarding free speech in Selma, Alabama.

The student panellists were Zipporah Turnbull, a student in the applied social science major, Madalaine McConville, a student also majoring in applied social science, Lois Cassel, a student in the psychology program, Frank Jonavec, a student in the applied social science program, and Amuchan Logan, a student majoring in human development and family studies.

Thanks to the CSII and Innovation, students and locals were given the opportunity to attend a full week of discussion sessions.

It’s important for students to be able to express matters they feel are important,” McAdory said.