IUP Year of Free Speech Begins with Six O’Clock Series Program on September 10

Posted on 9/5/2018 2:41:50 PM

Indiana University of Pennsylvania will begin a year of discussion about free speech on September 10 at 6:00 p.m. in the Hadley Union Building Ohio Room as the first program in IUP’s fall 2018 Six O’Clock Series. The program is free and open to the community.

“Words: Use Responsibly,” will discuss the issue of how college campuses should balance the values of free speech while fostering an inclusive learning atmosphere. The program will include a short video produced for the IUP Free Speech Project, followed by a panel discussion about the tension that can exist between inclusion and free speech.

Members of the panel include: David Chambers, chairman, Department of Political Science and chair of the IUP Free Speech Project, who will serve as moderator; John Wesley Lowery, chairman, Student Affairs in Higher Education; IUP Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Timothy Moerland; Keith Stinnette, a Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science major; and Gwen Torges, First Amendment content specialist and associate professor, Department of Political Science, and IUP Free Speech Project member.

“As I contemplate the task that lies before us during the coming Year of Free Speech, I am reminded of the words of Benjamin Franklin, ‘Freedom of speech is the great bulwark of liberty; they prosper and die together,’’’ Chambers said. “Our challenge is to maintain that bulwark as a constructive, inclusive, and sensitive companion of liberty. That is a task that requires nuanced understanding and hard work.”

The Year of Free Speech program continues in September with Constitution Day celebration on September 17. Constitution Day commemorates the September 1787 signing of the US Constitution, which is 231 years old this year.

Sponsored by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Department of Political Science, events kick off with a public reading of the Constitution by members of the IUP community from noon to 1:00 p.m. in front of Stabley Library, facing the Oak Grove. The first 100 participants will receive a special “We the People at IUP” t-shirt, as well as a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution and a star-shaped cookie. IUP Provost Moerland will begin the event with a reading of the Preamble.

The intentions of the authors of the US Constitution will be explored in the Six O’Clock Series presentation that evening: “A Casual Conversation with the Framers of the US Constitution” from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Hadley Union Building Ohio Room. The program also will include a screening of the video produced for the Free Speech Project.

Four of the Constitution’s authors—Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Charles Pinckney, and James Madison—will discuss the challenges in drafting the Constitution, and will speculate about what the Founders would think of today’s politics. These Founders will be portrayed, respectively, by political science professors Chambers, Steven Jackson, retired political science professor Mac Fiddner, and history professor Joe Mannard. Audience participation and questions are encouraged.

“I’m looking forward to exploring issues related to the First Amendment and freedom of speech in the coming year,” Torges said. “College is a place where we explore ideas—even ideas that we find offensive—and learn to listen, evaluate, and articulate our own ideas. I’m eager to hear what our students have to say about free speech, and about the experiences that they’ve had.”

More information about the IUP Free Speech Project, including videos about the Constitution and freedom of speech, is available at the IUP Free Speech website.

Read an article in the summer 2018 edition of IUP Magazine about free speech and freedom of expression on college campuses.