Creeley discusses free speech with UK students

By Chase Sanders | @KyKernel

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UK students learned about the importance of free speech on college campuses Wednesday when Will Creeley, an attorney with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), spoke at White Hall Classroom Building.

Creeley also held a dialogue with the students in attendance about progress made over the years in relation to the First Amendment.

Creeley feels that the administration at UK is on the right track to becoming a completely free speech institution.

“The University of Kentucky fully recognizes the importance of the first amendment, and we look forward to continuing to talk to the administration,” Creeley said.

The higher education institutions in the Commonwealth are not far behind other states in regards to free speech, but there’s always room for improvement.

“We see harassment policies that are too broad, and internet use policies that also impact First Amendment rights. Again we see those at campuses nationwide and not just here in Kentucky,” Creeley said.

FIRE’s representative has been successful while working with other universities in Kentucky to improve First Amendment regulations. It gives him hope that UK will become a free speech campus, as well.

“The attorneys on FIRE’s staff working with administrators at Eastern to tweak some of the policies they had on the books there to reflect their commitment to free speech and the first amendment in practice,” Creeley said.

Mathematical economics senior Austin Woods is the president of the Young Americans for Liberty at UK. His organization invited Creeley to come and speak in front of the students.

The Young Americans for Liberty has become active on campus in the past year, Woods said.

“We promote civil liberties and economic liberties so we’re involved with issues like free speech and economic freedom,” Woods said.

Woods also pointed out that he does lead a libertarian group, but they are willing and ready to collaborate with other politically affiliated organizations at UK.

“We are very pragmatic so we are open to work with College Democrats and College Republicans, since we share some views with both groups,” Woods said.

Economics senior Evan Tindle is the Kentucky State Chair of Young Americans for Liberty.

“I thought it was very informative and great,” Tindle said.

Tindle saw importance in Creeley’s message in his presentation.

“The reason we have the First Amendment is so we can talk about controversial things, and it’s very important that UK respects those rights,” Tindle said.

Tindle also has a positive outlook on what progressive action UK is looking into taking when it comes to loosening the reins on its First Amendment restrictions.

“From what I hear the administrators seem very open to revising UK’s free speech codes. We were concerned when we first started, but when we did our free speech wall a few days ago, they were very supportive,” Tindle said.

Tindle hopes swift action can take place with free speech regulations at UK. He believes it’s necessary to fulfill what it means to have democracy in action at UK.

“Colleges and universities are supposed to be places where we have intellectual discourse,” Tindle said. “People aren’t always going to agree with each other’s opinions, but if you confine free speech to an area or restrict what people can say then college no longer is a place for learning about new ideas.”