Picture by Jacob Reynolds
Drake University’s chapter of College Republicans decided to challenge students on college campuses shutting down freedom of speech this past Friday with a “Free Speech Ball” event in Helmick Commons, at which students were free to write down any beliefs they had on a beach ball.
With several right-wing speakers being shut down by typically liberal campuses, such as Berkeley students shutting down the controversial speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, the freedom of speech has become a contentious topic on college campuses all over the country. At Drake, the Constitution Day speaker spoke about the topic of freedom of speech and what kinds of rights people have for free speech.
Kollin Crompton, president of Drake’s College Republicans, said events like the one at Berkeley that stunt free speech are hurting the country.
“Events like Berkeley happen everywhere on college campuses all over the country,” Crompton said. “These events are dangerous to our society. They show the anti-free speech sentiments that are currently plaguing college campuses and younger generations.”
Crompton said the Free Speech Ball was an opportunity to get more of a promotion of the issue to the campus community.
“Right now, we are seeing an increase in people wanting to restrict speech,” Crompton said. “It important to show people that Free Speech is not a bad thing and that it is a fundamental human right.”
Skylar Silberman, who was at the booth in Helmick Commons featuring the “Free Speech Ball” for the College Republicans, said the event was inspired by other campuses around the country.
“We got the idea from another university,” Silberman said. “I thought it was a really fun idea to have because it’s a beach ball: play around with it.”
Crompton said the increase of the awareness is due to the issue of critics wanting to silence those with right-wing beliefs.
“Our intentions were to start discussions between people who disagreed with each other. Right now, people like to suppress differing opinions and we wanted to show that people can have civil disagreements,” Crompton said. “If someone did not like or agree with something written, they had the chance to ask that person civilly why they believe that.”
Silberman said she thought some speech did go too far in being offensive, but that should not prevent people from talking about their beliefs on government.
“Having an opinion on the government or how the country should run could be offensive to someone else, but they should still have the opportunity to speak what they feel,” Silberman said.
Crompton said the right to free speech for those with conservative beliefs will continue in the future.
“Our silence will only allow the anti-free speech sentiments to keep growing. To keep free speech in the midst of students we have to keep continuing the conversation,” Crompton said.
Crompton continued in saying that College Republicans will continue to hold similar events in the future, so people should “keep your eye out for them!”