With campus expression issues splashed across the front page and debated in Congressional hearings, higher education has become increasingly embroiled in our nation’s polarized politics and discourse. The perils of this moment — from safeguarding speech and Title VI accountability to the targeted harassment of academics — are only compounded in an election year.
Our sixth annual conference will be held virtually from 8:30am-12:30pm PT / 11:30am-3:30pm ET on Thursday, April 18, 2024. “Politics, Polarization and Perils on Campus” will delve into these subjects and explore current challenges and opportunities for learning, activism and engagement. Join legal experts, journalists and college and university leaders for a lively and dynamic half day of discussion.
THURSDAY, APRIL 18
UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement Executive Director Michelle Deutchman and University of California President Michael V. Drake kick off the day with welcome remarks.
Title VI, Expression & the Current Campus Climate
In November, the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued updated guidance on Title VI and opened multiple investigations of colleges and universities under the statute. In light of these developments, questions abound regarding how best to respond to allegations of a hostile educational environment while safeguarding freedom of expression. This panel will focus on the contours of the law and ways to create an inclusive campus environment.
- Catherine E. Lhamon, U.S. Department of Education
- More speakers to be announced!
Moving From Debate to Dialogue in Classrooms and Life – Lara Schwartz in Conversation with Carlos Cortés
Two former Center Fellows Lara Schwartz, author of Try to Love the Questions: From Debate to Dialogue in Classrooms and Life, and professor emeritus of history from UC Riverside Carlos Cortés, discuss what free speech means, and offer a framework for productive, truthful discourse that is honest, intellectually rigorous, and respectful.
“Just Doing My Job”: Targeted Harassment of University Employees
Over the past few years there has been an uptick in harassment and doxxing of university employees from both inside and outside the campus community. This panel includes two university employees who have been targeted because of their work. The discussion will explore the distinction between protected expression and unprotected harassment as well as what steps university leadership can take to support their staff and ensure their safety.
- Patrick R. Grzanka, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- Mary Anne Franks, George Washington University Law School
- Dania Matos, UC Berkeley
- Moderator: Nina Flores, California State University Long Beach
Lightning Talk: Higher Education Under Fire
Higher education has become a battleground in the culture wars with legislatures across the country targeting diversity, equity and inclusion programs, tenure, shared governance, and what can be taught in the classroom. Join the Center’s National Advisory Board Co-Chairs, Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley School of Law, and Howard Gillman, chancellor at UC Irvine, as they discuss these and other threats to colleges and universities.
Centering Students: Preparing for the 2024 Presidential Election
How do we use elections as a jumping off point for instilling democratic engagement in our students? As campuses prepare for the impending 2024 presidential election, join this panel conversation to discover how the election might be a springboard for surging activism, engagement and learning in the classroom.
- Alex Edgar, UC Berkeley
- Teri Platt, Clark Atlanta University
- Nancy Thomas, American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)
- Moderator: Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times
Executive Director Michelle Deutchman wraps up the day's events with brief remarks.
UC Berkeley School of Law
UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement
Michael V. Drake
University of California
California State University Long Beach
Mary Anne Franks
Professor in IP, Technology & Civil Rights Law
George Washington University Law School
Patrick R. Grzanka
Divisional Dean for Social Sciences
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Catherine E. Lhamon
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
Vice Chancellor for the Division of Equity & Inclusion
Clark Atlanta University
Director, Project on Civic Dialogue
Executive Director, IDHE
American Association of Colleges and Universities
Los Angeles Times
Click below to see highlights from last year’s conference,
“#SpeechMatters 2023: Fighting for our Democratic Freedoms.”