Free Speech Essay Contest

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The Hope and Stanley Adelstein Free Speech Essay Contest is right around the corner! We are looking for essays from high school students that discuss the role of free speech in the 21st century. Essays should pull from personal experience, current events, history, politics, art, anything really so long as they are backed up with evidence. Essays will be judged on their clarity, content, originality, and significance.

Submissions will go live on January 19, 2016 and are due March 11, 2016. We will select three winners from 11/12 grade and 3 winners from 9/10 grade. Last year we got over 500 submissions, this year we are hoping to get even more. In the meanwhile, check out some articles on the topic, get familiar with it, and start thinking about how you will set your essay apart from the rest. We encourage essays to focus on real-life examples or personal experience.

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Increasingly, higher education institutions require professors to post trigger warnings* on potentially upsetting material. Opponents have argued that trigger warnings inhibit intellectual and personal freedoms. Proponents have argued that failing to use trigger warnings will revictimize students who have experienced trauma and alienate them from the learning process. Discuss the role trigger warnings play in higher education with respect to our nation’s commitment to free speech.

Resources to Check Out

*Oberlin College defines triggers as, “not only relevant to sexual misconduct, but also to anything that might cause trauma. Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression. Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or understand.” Trigger warnings alert students of the presence of any of these triggers.

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