Local high schoolers discuss free speech

Joshua Lloyd, Editor-in-Chief

Bloomsburg University welcomed students from five local high schools at the “Got Free Speech?” event on Feb. 6. Held by BloomU’s Conversations for the Common Good organization, the initiative was designed to engage high school students about rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.     

Students from Hughesville, Benton, Bloomsburg, Danville and Southern Columbia attended several sessions facilitated by Bloomsburg University students and faculty. The discussion-based sessions prompted the students to think about the limitations that schools and media outlets sometimes place on freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

For the closing session, the high schoolers split into small groups and examined a case study involving the Aug. 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a counter-protester was killed by a white supremacist. The students were tasked with deciding between three options for addressing the issue of free speech in regards to extremist views.

Dr. Kara Shultz and Dr. Eric Miller of the Department of Communication Studies intended the session to serve as a “test run” for a potential new “Deliberation” course or minor at BloomU.