A MESSAGE FROM THE CHANCELLOR | April 10, 2017
“Say What? Examining Freedom of Speech at App State” was a series of events taking place on campus in late March that centered around the First Amendment and freedom of expression on our campus. In presenting this programming, Appalachian is taking a proactive approach to addressing issues of free speech, academic freedom and respect for differences of opinion and belief faced by college campuses across the nation.
We brought together leading experts from our campus and from campuses and organizations across the country and held more than two dozen events. In large public forums and small group workshops, we explored how a state-governed institution of higher learning can respect and adhere to the First Amendment while also fostering an environment where difficult conversations, likely to elicit a variety of opinions and beliefs, might safely and respectfully take place.
Our speakers included Dr. David Pilgrim, founder of the Jim Crowe Museum; Ken Nwadike, a motivational speaker who has made it his mission to help people listen to one another during contentious circumstances; Robert Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (or FIRE); as well as our own on-campus experts, including sustainability experts and Dr. Nancy Love, whose research area is hate speech in music.
Our week culminated with a visit from Dr. Lee Bird, vice president for student affairs at Oklahoma State University-Stillwater and an expert on student development and the First Amendment rights of students.
The conversations continue. Many of our guests recorded podcasts, so their expertise remains on campus beyond their visits.
Featured among those podcasts are Provost Darrell Kruger and Interim Vice-Chancellor for Student Development Leroy Wright talking about why an event such as this is important, what we learned and, more importantly, how we continue the work we have begun. I think you’ll find these discussions interesting and informative. Please know, we are doing all we can to prepare your students to be respectful and judicious in their exchanges here and in the work/play spaces they choose after graduation.
Sheri N. Everts
At Appalachian, we put students first, always, and together we are building a bright future. Ultimately, the reason Appalachian’s stellar faculty and staff come to work every day is to realize this vision.