Talking about the freedom of expression

Maddie Sturges, Multimedia Contributor

Thursday afternoon, the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion is holding a panel about Freedom of Expression at OSU. The panel is meant to build a conversation about free speech in the community and nation-wide. The event is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow in the Memorial Union’s lounge. It is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

The event will be moderated by Associate Professor of History Christopher Nichols and will seat several faculty members, including Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Susie Brubaker-Cole, and OSU’s University Librarian and Director of the OSU Press, Faye Chadwell.

Nichols has been planning the event since September and is hoping it transforms more into a conversation between the panelists and the audience.

“[The panel] is a free and open interchange of knowledge,” Nichols said. “A lot of people want to have this sort of conversation.”

The conversation he is talking about is between students and staff, and between campus and the community. This includes talking about freedom of speech and the values from freedom of expression within those areas where people are learning everyday.

“Education is all about expression, liberation and coming to knowledge on your own terms,” Nichols said.

One of the ways OSU is insuring a campus with freedom of expression and freedom of speech is by creating a Freedom of Expression document back in the spring and summer of 2016 that states that OSU “fosters an inclusive environment where everyone is provided an equal opportunity to succeed, learn, explore and engage in dialogue.”

Brubaker-Cole was one of the people who helped create OSU’s Freedom of Expression document, as a member of the Provost. As a member of the committee that created the document, she supports the statement at every stage.

“I view the the statement as a critical means for the university to make our community values and expectations around freedom of expression,” Brubaker-Cole said via email.

The Freedom of Expression document was a huge success and even received a top rating from the national organization, FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). That top rating meant that OSU’s policies properly protected free speech.

Nichols is not the only one excited to see what happens at the panel. Chadwell believes that freedom of speech is a right and should be presented by all means, but needs to be done in a civil way.

“We’re in a position as faculty to work with students and figure out a way to have those kind of conversations when we have differences of opinion,” Chadwell said.

According to Nichols this past week is prime example of how to and how not to express freedom of speech, such as the protest rallies in Portland becoming violent and OSU’s own peaceful protests rallies on campus.

Professor Nichols is amazed at what students have accomplished this past week.

“American youth hasn’t always been engaged in politics, not since the 1990s,” Nichols said. “[But] maybe we are seeing a change.”

One of the things that has really changed since the 1990s would be the access to the internet. These days, social media like Facebook and Twitter have really paved the way with social justice leaders and followers to come together to learn, according to Chadwell.

“I think that social media has had a definite hand in [the resurgence of social movements]. That there’s been an opportunity where some folks may have felt marginalized, or are marginalized, are now able to connect in ways more easily,” Chadwell said.

These people are engaged and want to better their world, even though they are all spread out across the nation. Social media is helping them come together on one platform.

The panel will be discussing social media throughout their panel and how it has really changed the way people rally together and how it effects freedom of expression as well.

“Anytime we see citizens engaged actively in rallies and protests – it’s a good thing,” Nichols said. “[That is] cultivated political activism.”

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