March 23-31, 2017
Examining Freedom of Speech at App State

Say What? Examining Freedom of Speech at App State

Appalachian State University, like universities across the nation, is faced with the challenge of balancing a respect for and obligation to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution with an institutional culture of respect for thought, belief and community.

  • When members of our community express themselves in ways that belittle or degrade others, how do we address these actions?
  • When members of our community view expressions of speech as threats, how do we ensure their safety?
  • How can we protect freedom of speech and thought for all members of our community?
  • Can we – or should we – use policy to address these matters?

Through a weeklong series of conversations, panel discussions, speeches and forums with experts in the field, our community explored these questions, and others.

What campus learned from ‘Say What? Examining Freedom of Speech at App State’
Listen to podcasts recorded during the weeklong series of events

The series of events titled “Say What? Examining Freedom of Speech at App State” centered around the First Amendment and freedom of expression on our campus. In presenting this programming, Appalachian State University proactively explored issues of free speech, academic freedom and respect for differences of opinion and belief faced by college campuses across the nation.

The series of more than two dozen events culminated March 31, 2017, but the conversation continues.


2017 Schedule of Events

  • THEM: Images of Separation
    A traveling exhibition of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
    March 27-31, 2017
    222 Plemmons Student Union (Wiseman's View)
    Free event

    "THEM: Images of Separation," is a traveling exhibition that showcases items from popular culture used to stereotype different groups. The negative imagery—found on postcards, license plates, games, souvenirs and costumes—promoted stereotyping against such groups as Asian-Americans, Hispanics, Jews and poor whites, as well as those who are "other" in terms of body type or sexual orientation.

  • Sticks, stones and snowflakes
    A discussion about resiliency and sustainability
    Wednesday, March 29, 2017
    421 Belk Library and Information Commons
    Free event

    A panel of faculty experts discusses why building a skill set to manage challenges and recover from difficulty is good for society, and what Appalachian can do and is doing to help our campus community build these skills.

  • Staff Connect
    A reception for Appalachian staff and book signing with Dr. Lee Bird, special guest
    Wednesday, March 29, 2017
    417 Plemmons Student Union (Beacon Heights)
    Free event

    Hosted by Chancellor Everts, Staff Connect brings together members of Appalachian’s staff from across campus once each month for a social event that offers opportunities to make and build professional relationships beyond the boundaries of departments or previously established professional ties.

  • Intellectual Honesty
    A lecture about free speech on college campuses with Robert L. Shibley
    Wednesday, March 29, 2017
    201 Plemmons Student Union (Blue Ridge Ballroom)
    Free event

    A Public Policy issue lecture by Robert L. Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), with commentary by Appalachian's Director of External Affairs and Community Relations, moderated by Dr. Philip Ardoin, chair of Appalachian's department of Government and Justice Studies.

  • The Free Hugs Project with Ken E. Nwadike Jr.
    Wednesday, March 29, 2017
    (Note: All patrons of Legends events must present a valid I.D. for entry and be at least 18 years old)
    Free event

    One of the nation’s top motivational speakers, the founder of the Free Hugs Project will show his audience how to be the change they wish to see in society.

  • The First Amendment and Your Student Organization
    A facilitated Q&A with Dr. Lee Bird
    Friday, March 31, 2017
    120 Plemmons Student Union (Roan Mountain)
    Open to all student groups, pre-registration required

    A facilitated Q&A session for student organizations with Dr. Lee Bird, co-author of The First Amendment on Campus: A Handbook for College and University Administrators.

  • Faculty Club
    A reception for Appalachian faculty and book signing with Dr. Lee Bird, special guest
    Friday, March 31, 2017
    220 Plemmons Student Union (Whitewater Lounge)
    Free event

    Established by Chancellor Sheri N. Everts in 2014, Faculty Club is an opportunity for faculty from across campus and faculty emeriti to join the chancellor in a relaxed and informal setting which is designed to generate an atmosphere of community and collaboration among Appalachian's faculty members.

Sponsoring organizations

  • Office of the Chancellor
  • Division of Academic Affairs
  • Division of Business Affairs
  • Division of Student Development
  • Division of University Advancement

Committee members

  • Dr. Phillip Ardoin, chair, Department of Government and Justice Studies
  • Dr. Lee Ball, director of sustainability
  • JJ Brown, dean of students
  • Jeff Cathey, director, Student Engagement & Leadership
  • Dr. Sue Edwards, vice provost for faculty affairs
  • Hank Foreman, interim chief of staff
  • Megan Hayes, director, University Communications
  • Traci Royster, director, Staff Development and Strategic Initiatives for student development
  • Leroy Wright, interim vice chancellor for Student Development

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