Join us for the UAlbany Symposium on Free Speech and Civil Discourse

August 31, 2023

Dear UAlbany Community, 

I am very pleased to announce our upcoming symposium, Free Speech and Civil Discourse: Our Rights, Our Responsibilities. This will be held in our Campus Center on September 14, with a forum with the Constructive Dialogue Institute specifically for student leaders on September 15.

Writing in The New York Times last spring, when campus speaker protests were making news seemingly daily, the columnist David French said, “Free speech is indispensable to the American idea. It protects us from tyranny more thoroughly and effectively than any other constitutional right.” Yet on college campuses over the past decade, speakers and organizations visiting campus have often resulted in division, protest, and anger.  UAlbany has not been an exception to these circumstances and outcomes.

Engaging our community and initiating a dialogue by hosting this symposium is one of our ways forward. Our goal is to bring students, faculty, and staff together to listen and learn, to discuss free speech and civil discourse in an open environment, and to provide our community with tools to navigate difficult conversations.

We intentionally partnered with Albany Law School to ensure that our campus also benefits from the perspective(s) of legal scholars and researchers as part of this important symposium. And through our collaboration with UAlbany’s New York State Writers Institute, two of our keynote speakers are experts on campus free speech. Nadine Strossen, professor emerita at New York Law School and former long-time president of the ACLU, is our morning keynote speaker and the author of Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship. In the evening, our keynote speaker is Suzanne Nossel, the author of Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All. She is also the CEO of PEN America, which has published the PEN Campus Free Speech Guide.

All events are free and open to the UAlbany community and the public. I want to express my deepest appreciation to the Coordinating Committee, Albany Law School, and our New York State Writers Institute for putting this event together.

Please join us for these critically important conversations on September 14.


Signature of Havidan Rodriguez

Havidán Rodríguez