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CLUH Conference Tackles Free Speech Issue

Former Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union President Gives Keynote Address

By Allyson V. Hobbs

Protecting and encouraging free speech at private universities is vital to education, said Harvey A. Silverglate, former president of the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts in a keynote address at the Civil Liberties Conference Saturday.

More than 70 students from several schools attended the Sever Hall conference, which was organized by the Civil Liberties Union of Harvard (CLUH).

Silverglate, who is a criminal defense and civil liberties trial attorney, said some private colleges are encroaching on students' right to free speech.

"On this campus, which is private and hence not protected by the First Amendment...students have fewer free speech rights than students at state institutions," Silverglate said.

Silverglate said he is particularly concerned about speech codes designed to restrict hate speech.

"There is this area of hate speech...where speech codes often make it more dangerous and risky to utter unpopular thoughts on a college campus than in most places in the real world," Silverglate said.

"The essence of being educated is being offended daily," he added.

Silverglate recently placed an ad in The Crimson asking victims of Harvard Police Department negligence to contact him.

In workshops, conference participants addressed free speech and other civil liberties concerns, including electronic mail privacy, campus publications and censorship, capital punishment and gay and lesbian rights.

"The workshop forum served to educate people about these issues and to get people to think about things they don't normally think about," said Jeff Hauser '95, assistant director of general affairs for CLUH.

Natasha Lisman, of the law firm of Sugarman, Rogers, Bushak and Cohen, conducted a workshop on "Free Speech/Hate Speech." Lisman said she was impressed by the thoughtful discussions and concern of students in her workshop.

"To see so many students on this campus committed to civil liberties makes me sure that Bill of Rights is not becoming fiction," Lisman said.

Lisman added that the struggle for civil liberties must continue and must bepromoted by students.

"To keep principles alive, [you must] bevigilant against invasion of academic freedom,"said Lisman. "You are citizens of an academiccommunity, and at the heart of an academicinstitution is academic freedom."

The conference closed with a panel discussionentitled, "Women and Civil Liberties."

Organizers said the responses to the conferencewere positive.

"Everyone who came left knowing more, with newinspiration...and new tools for changing life,"said Robert W. Yalen '95, the CLUH director

"To keep principles alive, [you must] bevigilant against invasion of academic freedom,"said Lisman. "You are citizens of an academiccommunity, and at the heart of an academicinstitution is academic freedom."

The conference closed with a panel discussionentitled, "Women and Civil Liberties."

Organizers said the responses to the conferencewere positive.

"Everyone who came left knowing more, with newinspiration...and new tools for changing life,"said Robert W. Yalen '95, the CLUH director

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