A Focus on Free Speech

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A Focus on Free Speech


On Jan. 23, 1967, UCI founding Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. addressed a crowd of 1,500 gathered at Gateway Plaza to protest budget cuts and the firing of University of California President Clark Kerr in the aftermath of the UC Berkeley-led Free Speech Movement. It was UCI’s first large-scale demonstration, and, as documented in the 1967 yearbook, “a new generation of students would emerge, impatient with the status quo, committed to righting old wrongs through direct action and, in the process, shocking their elders and shaking institutions.”

Fifty years later, free speech issues continue to cause conflict at campuses nationwide. But the dynamics have changed. “In the ’60s and ’70s, it was students who were insisting on broader free speech rights against administrators who were trying to limit what could be said,” says UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman. “Today the impulse for censorship is coming largely from students.”

In Free Speech on Campus, a new book by Gillman and founding UCI law school Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, the constitutional scholars explore the impetus behind the student challenges while encouraging universities to foster inclusivity and a culture that embraces the protection of First Amendment rights. Says Gillman, “Both students and campus leaders can benefit from more exposure to the basic rationale for free speech and academic freedom.”