Panel Discussion On Free Speech Slated April 3

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News Release: FSU

The First Amendment declares that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, but are there limitations and exceptions to this amendment?

A panel at Florida State University will explore that topic during a discussion Thursday, April 3. The Division of Student Affairs will present “Free Speech: A Multimedia Discussion” featuring Franita Tolson, the Betty T. Ferguson Professor of Voting Rights; Brandon Bowden, assistant vice president for Student Affairs; and Davis Hammet, director of operations at Planting Peace’s Equality House. Mark Zeigler, research associate and instructor in the College of Communication and Information, will moderate the discussion.

The event will feature a mixed-media format with video elements and audience participation. The panel will discuss local and national cases, such as free speech zones on college campuses and the protection of a controversial church’s right to protest at funerals and other events.

Vice President for Student Affairs Mary B. Coburn said that the topic of free speech is more relevant than ever with the advent of social media.
“In this day of social media, opinions and information are flying faster than one can keep track,” Coburn said. “This program will be important in helping us sort out where one person’s right to free speech impacts another person’s privacy and feelings of safety. I hope that many who have been wrestling with these issues will join us.”

The event, which is free and open to the public, takes place:
7 — 8:30 P.M.

Tolson’s scholarship focuses on the intersection between election law and federalism. Recently, she has written about the scope of voting rights under the 14th and 15th amendments and the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Prior to Bowden’s current role as assistant vice president, he served for 12 years in the Oglesby Student Union where he worked with the university’s policies on open platforms, posting and active distribution spaces.

Hammet graduated from Florida State in 2011 before joining Planting Peace, a progressive nonprofit organization founded in 2004 that focuses on global and domestic issues. Equality House is a project of Planting Peace that serves as a symbol of peace and positive change in the LGBTQ community. The resource center is based in Topeka, Kan., across the street from the controversial Westboro Baptist Church.

The Division of Student Affairs collaborates with students, faculty and staff to create welcoming, supportive and challenging environments that maximize opportunities for student learning and success. Through high quality programs and services, the division’s staff facilitates student development, celebrates differences and promotes civic and global responsibility.

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