Originial Post: 19 April 2005
I am sure all of you now are experiencing what we have experienced some years ago. The issues may be different now, but the needs for free speech on campus was and remains a big issue for every one.
While college campuses now enjoy the relative calms that was missing in the sixties and seventies, now it is not the government that is stifling free speech on campus, it is the administration, alumni, campus watch groups, special interest groups, that are now interfering and creating a chilling effect on the right of free debate and free speech on campus inside and outside the classrooms.
Students groups, professors and college administrations are threatened with law suites and loss of jobs. Powerful and rich alumni withholding funds from universities threaten colleges and universities and colleges because some professors and student groups take on subjects deemed controversial and not so politically correct. Registered student and not registered students now bring in video cameras to record the teaching and classroom discussions. All of these sad and tragic events are creating threatening and frightening conditions on campus for the right of free speech.
College campus is the one place where students not only get an education; they are exposed to many competing ideas, thoughts, and issues. And it is one the place where no one has a monopoly on knowledge. The university is the one place where great ideas are always debated in a civilized and enlightened atmosphere where people on the “other side’ of the issues would meet after a debate and continue the discussions into the late hours. Such was the case with me while at Indiana University in Bloomington, where the subject of Israel and the Palestinians was always a “hot” topic, but where students on both side of the issue would have very heated debates only to go out afterward to a bar of a coffee shop and continue the discussions. Many on both sides of this issue became lifetime friends. The same was with the issue of Vietnam, where students would have great and very moving debates and all in the interest of the nations. Great times and great moments in one’s college life. That was before interest groups and alumni change that.
I invite all student governments on campus to petition the university and sponsor a single location on campus, where students at any time, can mount a soapbox and exercise and enjoy the right to free speech, and where all can enjoy the fun and the knowledge that comes of such encounters. I am sure that most if not all of you heard of Hyde Park Corner, that great and famous Speaker Corner of London famous Hyde Park where speakers after speakers can mount that soap box and give great speeches, not so great and sometimes foolish speeches, but all have the right to speak out and express an opinion. The idea is for you, the students to sponsor a Jefferson Corner at your campus and make it and turn it into the great and central attraction it can be. I invite you to join me in celebrating our rights and tradition of free speech and celebrate a Jefferson Corner on every campus in this great country of ours. Thanks you.
Sami Jamil Jadallah, sponsor and promoter www.jeffersoncorner.com