ISU community celebrates the First Amendment

Students and faculty gathered on Central Campus to celebrate First Amendment Day on April 20.

Carolina Colon

Students and faculty organized special celebrations to celebrate the First Amendment — the amendment that protects the establishment of religion, freedom of speech, press, petition and assembly — on Monday.

Iowa State’s 13th annual First Amendment Day events began Monday with free Fighting Burritos mini burritos on Central Campus. Attendees of the event also had the opportunity to debate on topics of their choice. Many students were encouraged to see the booths and ask questions about the First Amendment, an important freedom for the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Members from the Charles Koch Institute, Catholic Student Community, Financial Counseling Clinic and the ISU Atheist and Agnostic Society attended the event. 

Clare Blodgett, recruitment assistant of the Charles Koch Institute, said the organization has paid internships, different programs for particular majors.

“We are an educational, non-profit organization,” Blodgett said. “ Also, we take care of the liberty and well-being of our students.”

The Catholic Student Community helps students practice the freedom of religion by creating opportunities for students to enter into a Christian community.

Brian Odino, sophomore in animal science, said the organization celebrates the First Amendment by having a weekly booth on campus every year and sharing a lunch with students regardless of their religion.

The Atheist and Agnostic Society’s goal is to provide an educational and support system for students who believe one can live an ethical life without religion.

Dana Korneisel, senior in geology, said that without the First Amendment they couldn’t work as a society.

“Every year, we have the opportunity to come out here to celebrate the freedom of speech,” Korneisel said.

The most anticipated speaker of the First Amendment celebration lectured in Curtiss Hall at 7 p.m.

Gene Policinski, CEO of the Newseum Institute, founding editor of USA Today, and senior vice president of its First Amendment Center, discussed how the five freedoms of the First Amendment are used in the 21st Century — new technology, battered by thugs and theocrats, and court decisions upholding unpopular speech and protests.

Policinski argued that journalists should have a law in which they are prohibited to go to jail. Many journalists go to jail because officers believe they are involved in a particular situation.

“When government regulates speech, it does so very heavy-handed,” Policinski said.

He said before the First Amendment, the relationships with the government and the press in the United States were always bulgur and left little room for optimism. Though relationships have improved, Policinski said he wants Americans to continue to fight for the First Amendment.

“Take the freedom of the First Amendment and use it to change your life and take action,” Policinski said.

Policinski’s voice changed when talking about how we are not supporting press today by not buying newspapers.

“You can silence a journalist but not journalism,” Policisnki said.

Editors Note: The event was sponsored by the Charles Koch Foundation and not the Charles Koch Institute.