Adelphi University will host an inaugural series of events to celebrate National Free Speech Week on October 16–19. A keynote speech, a film screening and discussion, and open conversations to engage students will be part of the programming sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the Culper Battalion (Hofstra University’s ROTC detachment).
Joseph De Gearo, MBA ’96, PhD ’22, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean of students, has been nurturing the idea of bringing students together to explore freedom of expression over the past few years. He recounted, “Recently, we have seen a surge in demands for the University to take action against expressions deemed hurtful or hateful. Untangling the complexities of balancing freedom of expression with our University’s core values of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging has become a pressing challenge.”
He also noted that this challenge became even more pronounced following the tragic killing of George Floyd and amid the contentious national dialogue, protests and other recent tragedies related to various forms of bias in recent years. Dr. De Gearo added, “It is in this evolving landscape that we recognize the critical importance of fostering open dialogue and understanding around freedom of expression and our students.”
Noting that the week is observed at dozens of campuses across the country, Dr. De Gearo gathered together a planning committee to come up with a strategy and ideas for content, speakers and more. As he expects is the case at other colleges that acknowledge the week, he shared that the Division of Student Affairs is focusing on student development and learning. “We recognize the educational value of challenging students to explore ways they can respond constructively to ideas that challenge and even offend them,” he said. “Broadening their repertoire of responses like this not only benefits them by expanding their own capacity, but it also prepares them to be more impactful citizens in a global society.”
Here is information about the week’s events, including links for more information and registration: