Cameron University presents “Balancing Free Speech and Public Safety on College Campuses”

The Cameron University Department of Social Sciences will present “Balancing Free Speech and Public Safety on College Campuses” on Thursday, April 5. Featured speakers include Dr. Lee Bird, Vice President for Student Affairs, Oklahoma State University; Chief Greg Giltner, Chief of Police, Oklahoma Christian University; and Dr. Sarah Eppler Janda, Professor of History, Cameron University. The presentation is open to the public at no charge and will take place in the McCasland Ballroom beginning at 2 p.m.

College campuses are natural places to express ideas and host debates with a variety of viewpoints.  The First Amendment of The Constitution of the United States guarantees the right of free speech and of the press; the right to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  However, the United States Supreme Court has deemed some speech to be threatening when such speech crosses the line by creating a hostile environment. How do universities promote the free exchange of ideas and maintain student and public safety at the same time?  The panel will address those challenges.

Janda will lead the presentation by providing a brief synopsis of the 1970 Kent State University protest shooting, where unarmed college students found themselves under fire from the National Guard while protesting the bombing of Cambodia by U.S. forces. Four students died, and nine others were wounded. Janda will address how this incident impacted a protest at the University of Oklahoma.

Bird will provide her expertise on the rights of students regarding freedom of speech and protest.  She will also expand on how universities should address those who promote hate as well as institutions hosting speakers with unpopular viewpoints.

Giltner will explain the differences between how campus law enforcement responds to incidents compared to other law enforcement agencies, as well as what challenges could arise when other law enforcement agencies are called to assist.

 “Balancing Free Speech and Public Safety on College Campuses” is the fifth presentation of CU’s Justice For All speaker series. The forum is sponsored by the Department of Social Sciences and the School of Graduate and Professional Studies and is made possible by the GEO Group Endowed Lectureship in Criminal Justice and Sociology.  Additional funding is made possible through the McCasland Foundation’s support of Cameron’s current academic festival, “American Identities in the 21st Century.”

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March 30, 2018