First Amendment Essay Contest

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First Place: “America is The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.But…Are its Universities?” by Arianna Samet

Second Place: “Untitled” (PDF) by Anna Mitchell

Third Place: “Untitled” by Emily Snell

Third Place: “Student Censorship and Academic Growth: A Paradox in Higher Education” by Hadi Kateb

Third Place: “Free Speech: An Inextricable Part of Higher Education” by Mahishan Gnanaseharan


First Place: “**** **** ***** *****” by Kanitta Kulprathipanja

Second Place: “The Necessity of Debate” by Isabella Penola

Third Place: “Free Speech: The Cornerstone of Civic Empowerment” by Justin Hunsaker

Third Place: “Untitled” by James D.E. Ellwanger

Third Place: “College and University Censorship of Student Speech Undermines America’s Future” by Emily Cox


First Place:“The Audacity of Independent Thought” by Mark Gimelstein

Second Place:“What Can I Say?: Free Speech on College Campuses” by Nora Faris

Third Place:“Free Speech’s Importance on Campus” by Alexandra Crum

Third Place:“Censorship is Not Education” by Hannah Dent

Third Place:“Education as Conversation” by Asheshananda Rambachan

Drawing Winners: Clayton Hammonds, Jr; Minhi Kang; Hannah Rasmussen; and Brian Shouse.


First Place:“Civil Liberties in Academia” by Vincent Kelley

Second Place:“That We May Think What We Like—Or Not At All” by Rachel Anderson

Runner Up:“The Right to a Free Mind” by Matthew Abel

Runner Up:“Freedom of Speech: The Basis for Higher Education” by Katherine Gerton

Runner Up:“Free Speech is Integral to Higher Education” by Blaire Landon

Runner Up:“Freedom of Speech on College Campuses” by Michael Munther

Runner Up:“Keeping the Marketplace of Ideas Open in Schools” by Zachary Trama


First Place: “Freedoms and Education,” by Kristen Kelly Lemaster

Second Place: “Freedom of Expression in Higher Education,” by Mollyanne Gibson

Runner Up: “A Uniform Graduating Class,” by Abigail Averil

Runner Up: “Tolerating Intellectual Free Will,” by Zach Beims

Runner Up: “Oppression of Innovation,” by Miriam Leigh Creach

Runner Up: “Tyranny vs. Progress,” by Adam Spangler

Runner Up: “Wanted: Free Speech on American Campuses,” by Jackson Wilson


First Place: “Educational Institutions or Re-education Camps?” by Nathaniel Cornelius

Second Place (Tie): “In Clear and Present Danger: The State of Personal Liberty in America’s Universities,” by Andrew David King

Second Place (Tie): “Losing the Marketplace of Ideas,” by Eric Podolsky

Runner Up: “Higher Education-or Total Indoctrination?” by Rachel Helmstetter

Runner Up: “The Lighting of a Fire,” by Erin Kahn

Runner Up: “Say What We Say…Think What We Think,” by Rachel Ochoa

Runner Up: “The Freedom of All Freedoms,” by Morgan Turner

Runner Up: “On the Consequences of Oppressing Free Speech,” by Danielle Wogulis

By Bonnie Snyder December 21, 2017

There’s still time to enter FIRE’s Free Speech Essay Contest … but not much!

Let’s cut right to the chase. We’re prepared to award $10,000 in prize scholarship money to the best essay on this topic: Explain in 800-1000 words why free speech is so important to higher education, and why censorship undermines the ideals of liberal education and a free society.

At FIRE, we defendindividual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. In addition to defending the rights of students and faculty, FIRE works to educate students and the general public on the necessity of free speech and its importance to a thriving democratic society.

If you are a high schooler who also believes that these basic constitutional rights are important — especially in academia — then we encourage you to gather your thoughts together in a well-constructed essay and submit it to our contest before time runs out. This year’s contest concludes at midnight on December 31, 2017, and we’ll be announcing the winners (5 top winners and 4 runners-up) by January 31, 2018. (You can check out some past winners here.)

Free speech is currently under tremendous pressure in academia, but there’s something you can do about it: speak up! Submit your free speech essay to FIRE and take part in defending First Amendment rights on college campuses. We’re looking forward to reading your entry.


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