New group emerges to defend free speech on campus

  • A new national advocacy organization launched this week with the mission of defending students' free speech rights on college campuses.
  • Speech First is a membership-based organization that hosts events, maintains a national network of free speech advocates, and even files lawsuits on behalf of students whose rights are violated by university administrators.

Speech First, a new national organization that seeks to protect free expression, has officially launched this week, pledging to defend the right of students to express their views on campus. 

According to the group's press release, “Speech First is an organization comprised of students, parents, faculty, alumni, and concerned citizens from across the country dedicated to protecting the free-speech rights of students on campus.”

"A lone student doesn’t stand a chance against a school with a huge endowment and an army of lawyers."   

[RELATED: Liberal UCLA student stabs free speech ball, runs away]

The organization offers a wide variety of membership benefits, including members-only events, a national network of free speech advocates, and updates about the group’s fight against “illegal and overbroad restrictions of speech on campus.”

“The message is clear. Students with unconventional ideas should shut up and keep their opinions to themselves,” said Speech First President Nicole Neily. “This is wrong. Censoring speech infringes the rights of students to express their opinions on campus. Just as important, it harms the rights of other students to listen to the speech—to challenge, debate, and learn from the views of their fellow students.
“When students’ speech rights on campus are violated, it’s tough to fight back,” she continued, arguing that “a lone student doesn’t stand a chance against a school with a huge endowment and an army of lawyers.” 

[RELATED: AZ funds 'freedom schools' to counter liberal hegemony on campus]

“It’s a real David versus Goliath situation,” Neily remarked. “That’s why Speech First was created.”

According to its website, the free speech organization will back students “on campus, in the media, and in court” by utilizing advocacy and litigation to “put colleges and universities on notice.”

In an interview with Campus Reform, Neily said that her organization will be “filing our first (and possibly our second!) lawsuit in the next 6-12 weeks” while explaining that “these cases will be brought on behalf of the association.”

“At the moment, we're working to build up our membership, because we believe there's strength in numbers—we want to send a clear message to students that there are hundreds/thousands/tens of thousands of Americans who support free speech,” she added.

You can learn more about Speech First by visiting its website, and by following the group on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow this author on Facebook: Nikita Vladimirov and Twitter: @nikvofficial

Get exclusive access to breaking CampusReform stories as they happen. Sign up below and we'll keep you in the loop.
 Weekly Digest

 Daily Emails

Nikita Vladimirov
Nikita Vladimirov | Correspondents Editor

Nikita Vladimirov is a Correspondents Editor for Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, he wrote for The Hill, where he extensively covered the latest political developments in U.S. and around the world. A 2016 national finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists' "Mark of Excellence Award," Nikita now resides in Washington D.C. and contributes to the Washington Examiner. His work has appeared on the front pages of The Drudge Report and The Hill, and has been featured by leading media organizations including Fox News, MSN, Real Clear Defense and many others.

20 Articles by Nikita Vladimirov