Panel discussion Oct. 18 will address free speech issues on campus

Menard Center event, part of national Free Speech Week, follows up on recent Universities of Wisconsin student survey
​Jerry Poling | October 12, 2023

How free is free speech at UW-Stout?

That question and others will be freely discussed by a five-person panel and in a Q&A session, Free Speech at UW-Stout, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at historic Harvey Hall Theatre. The free, public event is part of national Free Speech Week Oct. 16-22.

“The overarching goal is to initiate a campuswide conversation about free speech and academic freedom at UW-Stout that we can build on,” said Tim Shiell, director of UW-Stout’s Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation, who will moderate the discussion. 

Harvey Hall Theatre will be the site of Free Speech at UW-Stout on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
Harvey Hall Theatre will be the site of Free Speech at UW-Stout on Wednesday, Oct. 18. / UW-Stout

Shiell expects other topics will include: how free speech is related to academic freedom and its restrictions on expression; whether those problems exist at UW-Stout; what, if anything, should administration, faculty or students do to promote and protect free speech and academic freedom.

The event follows a report released last winter on the results of a student free speech survey conducted by the Universities of Wisconsin, formerly the UW System. The survey was paid for in part by the Menard Center. Shiell was one of five UW staff who wrote the report.

Free Speech at UW-Stout will be preceded by a meet-and-greet from 5:15 to 6 p.m. at the Harvey Hall Café. 

The panelists are:

  • Alex Cluphf, Stout Student Association president
  • Wade Harrison, Universities of Wisconsin senior legal counsel
  • Matthew Ray, UW-Stout chemistry professor
  • Glendalí Rodríguez, UW-Stout provost and vice chancellor of Academic Affairs
  • Sandi Scott, UW-Stout dean of students

Harrison will provide background on legal and policy aspects of free speech and academic freedom.

Shiell said the political left and right are skeptical of universities’ efforts to protect and promote free speech on campus. “If universities don't do a better job, the negative trends will escalate,” he said.

The panel discussion is expected to take up about the first half of the event, followed by the Q&A.

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