On Sunday, March 24, the Young Americans for Liberty, Turning Point USA and College Republicans chapters of Siena College hosted the second annual Let Freedom Ring conference. The conference featured two guest speakers: Lauren Cooley and Kyle Kashuv.
Lauren Cooley is the Red Alert Politics editor for the Washington Examiner and she discussed college campus activism for increased free speech rights. Cooley initiated her talk by briefly discussing President Trump’s recent executive order, which directly addresses the issue of free speech suppression on college campuses. According to Cooley, the executive order will place pressure on colleges, both public and private, to allow more ideas to be properly represented on campuses, with limited censorship. Cooley, then, discussed the “abuse” of liberal institutions in their censorship of conservative thoughts and ideas. Pointing to an “unbalance of speech,” Cooley discussed college favoritism toward liberal ideals, and how this bias, along with the prominence of “safe spaces” on college campuses, hinders emotional and intellectual intelligence.
Cooley’s talk further detailed the advantages of increased free speech rights on college campuses. Cooley discussed how removing safe spaces on campus and allowing more conservative speakers to speak at higher learning institutions allows for a more diverse, intellectual environment and allows for students to be more secure in their political persuasions when presented by political ideas not commonly presented to them. Cooley also mentioned how allowing more free speech on campuses will make schools more representative of the areas they are based in. She mentioned how free speech suppression leads to liberal bias, and this silences conservative rhetoric, despite the placement of colleges in the United States. In other words, college campuses that would not otherwise be intellectually liberal are led to be, because of the silencing of conservative ideas.
After Cooley delivered her remarks and partook in a Q&A session, Kyle Kashuv led the rest of the conference. Kashuv is a survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. He began his panel by recounting the events of the horrific day and recalling the subsequent coverage of the shooting just days after. Kashuv discussed his frustrations with news media turning the shooting into a “gun control” issue, rather than a security one, citing the fact that 46 reports were submitted, which warned of the occurrence, along with two tips to the FBI. Kashuv further described how, when instances like the Stoneman Douglas shooting occur, turning it into a gun control issue removes accountability of those who were able to prevent the occurrence from happening. Kashuv called for higher security for institutions to prevent other similar situations from occurring. He claimed that the mere presence of armed security at institutions is enough to deter shooters from committing to their lethal plans. Kashuv called for less gun control, as giving the government more power over the matter places the public in greater danger, since they would not be able to properly defend themselves using firearms. Kashuv begged the question: “If the left truly believes the government and law enforcement are tyrannical, racist, etc., then why do they give them more power?” Kashuv ended his panel with a Q&A.