Posted 1:19 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021

UWL Free Speech Week Poster showing image of person writing the First Amendment in chalk in front of the Washington Square Arch in New York City

Fostering Inclusion and the Freedom of Inquiry

By Amber Leibundgut-Peterson 

Have you ever wondered what is and isn’t considered “free speech?” Do schools have the power to control speech in the classroom? What does freedom of expression even mean? To answer these questions and more, national Free Speech Week is celebrated each year during the third full week of October. This year, the Joint Committee on Free Speech Promotion at UW-La Crosse deployed a poster campaign across campus to bring attention to the nuances of free speech.  

UWL Free Speech Week poster answering the question, "What does Freedom of Speech really mean?"

Of particular interest to the committee, and the broader UWL campus community, is starting a conversation related to freedom of speech and antiracist ideals. To jumpstart this topic, Murphy Library displayed books that investigate free speech with an antiracist lens—particularly related to the history of racism and how to be an antiracist. For example, inHate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship,” Nadine Strossen questions the best way to combat hate speech. Strossen demonstrates that, historically, the more restrictive the speech law, the more suppressed minority viewpoints became. She concludes that the best way to resist hate and promote equality is not censorship, but through “counterspeech, a tactic of countering hate speech or misinformation by presenting an alternative narrative rather than censoring the offending speech. 


UWL Free Speech Week poster with the text, "Free speech is: a feminist issue, a social justice issue, a racial issue, a UWL value."

If you are interested in learning more about antiracism history and activism and how it relates to free speech, please pick up one (or several) of our books today! These books as well as other resources can be found on our Free Speech and Antiracism LibGuide. 

Want to learn more about free speech on college campuses? Check out these resources: 

Free speech on college campuses explained 

The First Amendment Center/Newseum First Amendment FAQ 

The Future of Free Speech, Trolls, Anonymity and Fake News Online 

Free Speech on Campus survey 


UWL Free Speech Week Poster quoting Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights