Simpson College is set to host First Amendment Week on the Indianola campus Sept. 16-20. The first-annual event will be a week-long recognition of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference.
Highlighting the week’s events is a presentation from Gene Policinski, a founding editor of USA Today and president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute. His Constitution Day Lecture, The Future of the First Amendment will be held Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. in Hubbell Hall.
There is considerable disagreement, dispute, and debate going on in the culture at large about what freedom of speech is, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, petition, and assembly, what they all involve. We are putting together a week of events designed to answer those questions.
Brian Steffen, chair of the multimedia communication department, sees the First Amendment as one of the most misunderstood rights we hold as Americans. He hopes the variety of events held during the week will clear up some misconceptions.
“We’re always looking for ways to better engage our student population and our community with issues of importance,” Steffen said. “As most people know, the First Amendment is among our most cherished rights but it’s also among our most controversial rights. There is considerable disagreement, dispute, and debate going on in the culture at large about what freedom of speech is, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, petition, and assembly, what they all involve. So we are putting together a week of events designed to answer a lot of those questions.”
First Amendment Week Schedule
All Month: First Amendment Display in Dunn Library: Debate and protest have a long history at Simpson College. This display will feature the events at Simpson during which students raised their voices to impact the campus community and national politics.
Monday, 9/16: Coach Julian Seay, ‘Shut Up & Play: Sports & Activism,’ 8 pm, Hubbell 1 & 2. Julian Seay coaches the Freedom Hoops program in Des Moines and has a history of using his position to serve as a community advocate and activist. He’ll talk about the role of athletics in the nation’s political and social debates.
Tuesday, 9/17: Simpson Student Media Hosts the Free Speech Wall, 11 am – 1 pm, KCC Atrium. It’s a Constitution Day tradition at Simpson — students, staff and faculty are invited to post whatever statements they’d like on the Free Speech Wall. For the first time, Simpson will host a session on Thursday centering on the Free Speech Wall that serves as a campus dialogue on the role of free speech at Simpson.
Tuesday 9/17: Freedom Forum President & COO Gene Policinski, ‘The Future of the First Amendment,’ 1 pm, Hubbell 1 & 2. Gene Policinski is one of the nation’s top authorities on the five freedoms of the First Amendment. He hosts the ‘First Five’ podcast and serves as a frequent guest on radio and television programs that discuss the First Amendment.
Wednesday, 9/18: Campus Dialogue on Religion & The First Amendment, 5:30 pm, Hubbell 1 & 2. Students, staff and faculty are invited for a pasta dinner and facilitated discussion on the role of religion at Simpson and in a democracy.
Thursday, 9/19: Breaking Down The Wall, 7 pm, Black Box. Brian Steffen, interim director of Simpson Student Media, hosts a community discussion on the content of the Free Speech Wall and what roles freedom of speech and press should serve at a private college such as Simpson.
Friday, 9/20: Debate on Hate Speech on Campus, 1 pm, Black Box. Members of Simpson’s national champion Speech, Debate & Mock Trial program debate one of the hottest First Amendment issues of the day. What is hate speech? How should Simpson respond? By regulating hate speech, do we keep potentially valuable ideas out of our classrooms and from our campus?
Friday, 9/20: Performing Arts House Underground on the First Amendment, 10:15 pm, Black Box. Performing arts students dedicate a Friday Underground performance to underlining ideas related to freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition.