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Freedom of speech: ACLU speaker presents campus speech at Wright State

Lt. Colonel David Madden | Photo by Natalie Cunningham | The Wright State Guardian

Lt. Colonel David Madden | Photo by Natalie Cunningham | The Wright State Guardian

“I think we all tend to think that we have no impact or we can’t do anything, but in reality, the most valuable commodity we have is time,” said Lt. Colonial David Madden.

On Sept. 27, an English class hosted a free event in which a speaker from the ACLU came to Wright State to lecture and answer questions about free-speech rights on university campuses.

In an interview after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) event, Madden talked about the importance of these freedoms.

The speaker, Lt. Colonial David Madden, is both a military veteran and a lawyer. Madden has also taught as a professor.

Madden says he has been involved with the ACLU off-and-on for many years; this is the first event of its kind that Madden has spoken at.

“When I worked in legal aid, it really focused for me better than anything I’d ever done, my understanding of how little advocacy there really is for the poor and how little advocacy there really is for protest in the United States and how expensive that process is and how cumbersome it is in terms of enforcing those rights,” said Madden.

“I think education on civil liberties is incredibly important and for the most part, we take for granted those fundamental rights that we have. It’s important for us to have forums where we can stop and think and talk about these issues in a way that’s nonthreatening and in a way that is maybe preparatory in terms of what’s down the road,” said Madden.

Stephanie Dickey planned and hosted the event. Dickey likes to teach her courses based around a theme; the theme she is teaching this year is free-speech rights on campus.

“I thought ‘who could I invite to campus?’ and I thought immediately the ACLU because this is what they do. They protect First Amendment rights,” said Dickey.

According to Dickey, she was very pleased with the turnout and engagement from audience members.

This is the first ACLU event on campus that Dickey has organized. She plans to organize and host more events like this in the future if she is able.

“If you don’t know you have rights, you’re going to lose them,” said Dickey. “If students don’t know that they have rights or what rights they have on campus, they could quickly come to the conclusion that they’re not very important, but the fact of the matter is, they’re the most important people on campus, bar none. Anytime the faculty or administrators or anybody else starts to think that they are the most important people on campus, they’re sadly mistaken. It’s the students, so students need to know what their rights are.”