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College of Arts and Humanities

First Amendment Festival : CWU hosts weeklong festival celebrating First Amendment rights

CWU will host a weeklong First Amendment Festival May 6-9 in the Student Union and Recreation Center, featuring a number of activities – from mock trials to a “Marketplace of Ideas” – designed to help students learn about and exercise their First Amendment freedoms.

The festival keynoter is political columnist and New York Times bestselling author Glenn Greenwald, whose columns for Salon and The Guardian prompted Newsweek to name him one of the nation's top 10 opinion writers. His talk, Monday at 4 p.m. in the SURC theater, is free and open to the public.
“Day in and day out, he exposes how the ‘war on terror’ has eroded the bedrock principles our country was founded on,” said Cynthia Mitchell, Festival chair and Central journalism professor. “I really want to expose Central students to his insights. They need to hear what he has to say.”
Along with Greenwald’s presentation, from 11:00 a.m. to noon on Monday and Tuesday, and noon to 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, three famous First Amendment trials will be re-enacted by CWU history students: the espionage trial of Daniel Ellsburg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times; Lenny Bruce's obscenity trial; and the “Chicago Seven” trial of protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
At the end of that trial, scheduled for Monday, Greenwald will close the re-enactment with a short talk about the parallels and differences between that case and the oppressive detention and court martial of Bradley Manning for leaking to Wikileaks. Students can expect a ‘real’ court room experience as the trials will present each side of the case, letting the audience weigh in as the jury. 
All week long, students will have the ability to write on a free speech wall or to make their own protest sign. On Thursday from 11-2, they’ll also have the chance to speak out on several hot topics in the SURC pit, from gun rights to reproductive rights. 
“It’s important that students make their voices heard,” Mitchell said. “Our partnership with College Civics Week is designed to show them how they can use their First Amendment rights to get involved in issues they care about, starting with the most important way to get involved – voting.” 
Monday’s “Showcase of Action” from noon-1 p.m. on the 2nd floor SURC mezzanine will show students the many ways they can get civically involved on campus and in the community. And the “Marketplace of Ideas,” Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., will feature campus clubs and community advocacy groups, which are encouraged to reserve free tables to advocate for their causes. 
“We want students to know their rights,” Aubrey Abbott, president of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), said. “Students should use the Marketplace of Ideas to educate themselves.”
For more information regarding the festival contact Cynthia Mitchell at
To reserve a table in the Marketplace of Ideas, contact Gracie Manlow at

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