Students at Illinois College plant a liberty tree in honor of Free Speech Week.

What can your organization or school do to celebrate Free Speech Week? Here are a few of the activities and events some of our Partnering Organizations have conducted in recent years:

The National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation (NABEF) and the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) conduct an annual Freedom of Speech Public Service Announcement (PSA) Competition for college communications students.  Students from across the country create 30-second spots on the topic “What freedom of speech means to me.”  Stations are especially encouraged to run the spots during Free Speech Week.  In 2013, the first-place winners were recognized on August 25th at the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) annual conference in Anaheim, California.  Sasha Ribowsky and Eric Sowalskie of State University of New York at New Paltz took first place in the TV category, and Mark Hurrish of Central Michigan University took top honors in the radio category.  The PSAs can be viewed and downloaded at  The McCormick Foundation provides major funding.

At Cato Institute, Tim Lynch the Director, Project on Criminal Justice, highlighted some of Cato’s work defending various Free Speech issues on the Cato @ Liberty blog daily during FSW ’12.

Taylor & Francis offered free online access to NCA‘s 2012 Free Speech Yearbook and various articles on the First Amendment and Free Speech published in NCA journals during FSW this year.

The Arizona State University Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication (Tempe, Ariz.) has held multiple events in celebration of FSW from a presentation of “Freedom of Speech: Global Perspectives” at its First Amendment Forum that was part of the school’s Must-See Mondays Speakers Series to interactive exhibits titled ‘Free Speech and Feminism’ to speech contests and more.

For several years AOL has displayed an ad module for FSW for anyone who searched for key words and phrases like “free speech” and “First Amendment” using the AOL search engine.  The module contained the FSW logo and a link to the FSW website at

Founding partner The Media Institute and its First Amendment Advisory Council hosted a seminar on free speech and the Internet at the Motion Picture Association of America during FSW 2012.  Participants included a keynote address by Senator Patrick Leahy, with panel discussions moderated by Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and notable First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams

The National Communications Association (NCA) offers ideas and resources on how to celebrate Free Speech Week in the classroom to their members on their website.  They have also hosted free webinars in the past.  In anticipation that the Supreme Court will hear the case of Town of Greece, N.Y. v Susan Galloway et. al this fall,  their webinar for 2013 plans to feature religious communication and free speech experts on the constitutionality of offering prayer at government meetings.   Learn more at{8d0118afcce5d9a2fbd2e700c8237a7d827e21b7da009e8c0a8f2bc00aa7effe}20Speech{8d0118afcce5d9a2fbd2e700c8237a7d827e21b7da009e8c0a8f2bc00aa7effe}20Week.

Chapters of Lambda Pi Eta , the communication studies honor society of the NCA, hold various events at their respective universities.  For example, in 2012 The Setonian and Lambda Pi Eta hosted former New York Times editor Dave R. Jones at Seton Hall University for a discussion with students about his career in journalism, while the chapter at Belmont University hosted two convocation events to mark FSW.

The public education division of the American Bar Association held a Freedom of Speech Week Raffle.  Entrants could enter online at a page on the ABA website devoted to FSW.  The winner received the Encyclopedia of the First Amendment: Volumes I and II, edited by Vile, Hudson, and Schultz.  The ABA Division for Public Education also offered daily giveaways during the week on its Facebook page.

For the past couple of years, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has created a hand-drawn announcement about FSW on the wall of the First Amendment Monument in Charlottesville, Virginia.

FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) President Greg Lukianoff released his book “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of the American Debate” to coincide with FSW 2012, as well as published “5 More Ways to Celebrate Free Speech on Campus” on their blog.  In 2011, in conjunction with Students for Liberty, several university speaking events during the week were promoted as Free Speech Week events.

Several local TV stations have shown they can celebrate Free Speech Week in a big way.  In 2011, Plymouth Area Community Television (PACTV) of Plymouth, Massachusetts PACTV was instrumental in arranging for Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick to issue a Proclamation declaring the third week of October Freedom of Speech Week.   They have also held a variety of activities in honor of the week that include open houses at its studio and creating and uploading First Amendment-themed PSA’s daily during FSW to its website, Facebook page, and YouTube.   Olelo Community Media in O’ahu, Hawai’I also created several Free Speech Week promos that were uploaded to their YouTube channel while Falmouth Community Television (FCTV13) in Falmouth, Mass., celebrated by asking community leaders to present 30-second speeches on the topic “What Does Freedom of Speech Mean to Me?”

The student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the communication studies program at Tarleton State University held three programs for the week open to students, faculty and the general public in 2012.  These included topics such as “Don’t Shoot the Messenger:  Free Speech and Bad News” presented by award-winning journalist Kathryn Jones; and “Free Speech:  It’s More than Just Talk – the First Amendment Bundle of Rights is Not Just for Journalists” presented by Pete Rose, an attorney, former reporter, and member of the Advisory Council of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

Kyle McSlarrow, former president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, authored a series of articles titled “The First Amendment & the Cable Industry.”  The series appeared on NCTA’s website and discussed issues, such as net neutrality, that have First Amendment implications for cable.

At North Central College Professor John Stanley has created week-long exhibits in the campus library gallery presented free speech issues ranging from artistic freedom to clothing as freedom of speech to the freedom to read and music censorship.   Also included is a banned books display.  Discussion and written comments are encouraged throughout the exhibit.

At Illinois College, the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies has presented thoughtful and creative campus-wide convocations in past years. Led by Professor Adrienne Hacker-Daniel, one such program led students through landmark Supreme Court decisions involving sedition, hate speech, and obscenity.  Nine students, dressed in black graduation gowns, presented oral interpretations of key opinions by Supreme Court justices.  In 2012 they held a convocation called “1st and Foremost:  Lift Your Voice” and also planted a liberty tree on campus.