Over the course of the last month, hundreds of students, staff, and faculty turned out to participate in the #UseYourVoice: Understanding the First Amendment in the 21st Century series aimed at helping the community better understand the complexities of the First Amendment.
Hosted by the Associated Student Government, Pre-Law Society, Academic Senate, Classified Senate, and Saddleback College president Tod A. Burnett, the series featured the following four workshops:
First Amendment in the Digital Age – How application of the first amendment has changed since the onset of technology and social media. The featured speakers were Saddleback College professors Mike Reed, Kendralyn Webber, Christina Hinkle, and Frank Gonzalez.
Videotaping and the “Gotcha” – The impact of the increased frequency of public videotaping and the search for the “gotcha” moment. The featured speaker was Attorney Shawn Steel.
Protected Speech: What Does and Doesn’t Violate Our Campus Policies – An overview of the state free speech laws and what generally constitutes protected speech. The featured speakers were Warren S. Kinsler and Sharon Ormond of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud and Romo Professional Law Corporation.
Free Speech vs. Academic Freedom – A discussion on the differences between free speech and academic freedom, as well as the First Amendment from a national perspective. The featured speaker was UCI Law School founding dean Edwin Chemerinsky.
Dr. Burnett stated, “Free speech, especially at higher education institutions, has become a hotbed of contention in our country. The four workshops provided a clearer understanding of the First Amendment and how Saddleback College upholds these principles while preserving academic freedom and a safe learning environment for all. I am proud that our college community engaged in an open and respectful dialogue on this sensitive issue.”
Lucy Hendrix, president of the Associated Student Government shared, “Free speech has always been a highly contentious issue on college campuses, but I think that it has become even more relevant since the November elections. I found that many students, including myself, were having difficulty understanding the First Amendment- especially in a modern context. I hope that this series opened the conversation at Saddleback College, so that students, as well as faculty members and other employees of the campus, feel knowledgeable about their speech rights and better able to communicate within our increasingly diverse community.”
Raja Riahi, president of the Saddleback College Pre-Law Society added, “Throughout the event, we tried to provide the students with the opportunity to learn more about their freedoms and the boundaries. At the last event of the series, our club proudly presented the Saddleback Student Bill of Rights in one condensed piece, which shares with students the rights available to them. Hearing each of the speakers talk about freedom of speech, which is also an important part of the bill, was truly remarkable.”