Florida Tech’s ‘The Crimson’ to Host Free Speech Event with Panel Discussion Feb. 28; Open to Public

MELBOURNE, FLA.—The Crimson, Florida Institute of Technology’s student-run newspaper, will host the first-ever First Amendment celebration on campus. Called “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Cookies,” the event is Feb. 28, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Hartley Room, Denius Student Center, on the Florida Tech campus.

“Free Speech” will include two parts. The first is a panel discussion with award-winning print and television journalists and a First Amendment lawyer; the second part is a free speech demonstration that offers students a free cookie for exercising their First Amendment rights by writing on a “free-speech” wall. The panel discussion will be from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m.; the demonstration will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., outside the Denius Student Center.

The panel will comprise Emmy Award-winning TV reporter Dan Billow from WESH 2 News; Florida Today’s public interest editor, Matt Reed; and Melbourne attorney Jack Kirschenbaum, who represents a newspaper and a TV station news division. Michael Kahn, who teaches Constitutional Law in the Florida Tech pre-law program, will moderate the panel.

“This event is a chance for our young journalists at The Crimson to remind their fellow students that they truly are a free press, with no editorial oversight from faculty, staff, administration or trustees,” said Ted Petersen, a communication professor and adviser to The Crimson. “And this event is a great opportunity to teach our international students about some core American values.”

Billow has won three Emmy Awards for his coverage of the space industry, including the Columbia accident in 2003, and for a documentary that included video from the first TV camera to accompany NASA’s final inspection team to the shuttle launch pad.

Reed has worked as a newspaper reporter and editor since 1991, focusing on investigation and local news. He writes a popular column for Florida Today, where he has worked since 2001.

Kirschenbaum has extensive experience in the preparation and trial of eminent domain and property rights cases, as well as experience in First Amendment law. He joined the GrayRobinson law firm in 1989.

Kahn, a Supreme Court-certified mediator, has been appointed by several state and federal judges to oversee mediations regarding First Amendment disputes between government agencies.

For more information, contact Ted Petersen at (321) 674-7201 or tpetersen@fit.edu or Drew Lacy, editor in chief of The Crimson at crimson@fit.edu. The First Amendment celebration is free and open to the public.

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