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UT News

UT Celebrates Free Speech Week

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From Oct. 16-22, The University of Texas at Austin joined other universities and organizations across the country in an annual celebration of free speech. “The freedom to speak, think and express is at the very heart of any world-class academic institution,” President Jay Hartzell said.

During Free Speech Week, UT celebrated its commitment to free speech with debates, talks and panel discussions hosted by colleges and schools spanning virtually the entire campus, from the McCombs School of Business and the Law School to the Moody College of Communication and the Dell Medical School.

Here is full slate of events. Below is a sample of Free Speech Week at UT:

  • “Free Speech: The Moral and Legal Foundations of Free Speech in America” was a panel discussion featuring Judge Kyle Duncan, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, professor Vincent Lloyd of Villanova University and professor Ilana Redstone of the University of Illinois. This event was sponsored by the Civitas Institute in the School of Civic Leadership, the Bech-Loughlin First Amendment Center in the Law School, the Robert Strauss Center, which spans the Law School, College of Liberal Arts and LBJ School of Public Affairs, and the Annette Strauss Institute in the Moody College of Communication.
  • At the McCombs School of Business, Robert Prentice, professor in the Department of Business, Government and Society, and Cara Biasucci, director of ethics education and creator of Ethics Unwrapped, spoke on “Free Speech Rights and Free Speech Moral Responsibilities.”
  • The Moody College of Communication and the College of Liberal Arts sponsored a discussion on free speech between Brian Amerige, who led the Core App UI Team at Facebook before starting new social media platform Thoughtful, and JT Morris, an attorney with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, moderated by Tara Smith from the College of Liberal Arts.
  • The Law School’s Bech-Loughlin First Amendment Center hosted “Free Speech: Past, Present, and Future,” with Danish lawyer and human rights advocate Jacob Mchangama.
  • The Dell Medical School sponsored a debate on vaccine mandates.
President Hartzell speaks at a panel titled “Free Speech: The Moral and Legal Foundations of Free Speech in America”

Additionally, the Moody College of Communication sponsored a student video contest, asking students to create 1-minute videos about the role of free speech in today’s polarized society. Prizes will be awarded to the top three videos.

And in late March 2024, the College of Liberal Arts is teaming up with the Civitas Institute for a large event on free speech and civil discourse, including a full-day meeting with paired panelists civilly discussing diverging views on a series of topics.

“If we, at UT, are to lead society forward by educating new generations of talented students and discovering new knowledge,” Hartzell said, “we must bring together a wide range of perspectives, viewpoints and voices to do so. It is only through discourse — and occasionally, hard conversations and vigorous debate — that we can find common ground and make progress together.”

UT Free Speech Week aligns with national Free Speech Week, which is an annual non-partisan, non-ideological event intended to be a unifying celebration. Visit freespeechweek.org for more information, and utexas.edu/ut-celebrates-free-speech for our on-campus events and happenings.