CWU News

Annual First Amendment Festival engages CWU Community

CWU will host its third annual weeklong First Amendment Festival May 11-14 in the Student Union and Recreation Center. The week features various events ranging from keynote speakers to the creation of protest signs. 

At 4:00 p.m. Monday, May 11, the festival kicks off with An American Peace Activist in Palestine: Remembering Rachel Corrie. Craig and Cindy Corrie are the parents of 23-year-old peace activist Rachel Corrie, an Evergreen College student who was killed by an Israeli Forces bulldozer while protesting the destruction of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip. In the wake of her death, Craig and Cindy Corrie founded The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice.

Along with the Corries’ presentation, the event will include clips from a documentary about Rachel’s activism, and three Central theater students will perform excerpts from the play My Name is Rachel Corrie. Following the excerpts is a talk back panel with the Corries and CWU professors who will address the Israeli/Palestinian issue from a variety of perspectives. An American Peace Activist is in the SURC Ballroom and is free and open to the public. 

“Rachel’s parents have done incredible social justice work in the wake of their daughter’s tragic killing–work they simply couldn’t do without the freedoms in the First Amendment,” said festival coordinator Cynthia Mitchell, an associate professor of journalism. “We are so fortunate that they’re willing to come here and talk about their work and their daughter’s legacy. The play, which is based on her writings and diary entries, is also incredibly moving, and such a potent reminder of the power that one person can achieve if they just have the guts.”

Jay Ball, associate professor of theater who is directing the excerpts from the documentary and the play, said, “The play and Rachel’s journals reveal such a wonderfully alive and morally courageous young woman. You really know there’s something wrong with the world when someone like her is killed. ‘In the line of duty,' I want to say. The duty all Americans have to help bring peace and security to Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

  • The First Amendment Festival is also collaborating with the Lion Rock Visiting Writing series to host Allison Joseph, who in 2012 was awarded the George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 12, in the SURC Theatre and is also free and open to the public. 
  • On Wednesday, May 13, campus clubs and community advocacy groups are encouraged to reserve tables from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. as a part of the Marketplace of Ideas to help advocate their causes to the campus community. 
  • Throughout the week, students, faculty, and staff will have the chance to speak out about pressing issues by making their own protest signs and writing on the free speech wall from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on both the East and West SURC patios. 
  • During lunch on Thursday, May 14, students will be able to trade all five of their First Amendment freedoms for a free meal during the Food for Thought event from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on the East SURC patio. 

“The First Amendment is the foundation of our free, open and tolerant society,” Mitchell said. “It’s incredibly important that this generation of students—and that our community at large—understands and embraces these freedoms.”

Media contact: CWU Professor Cynthia Mitchell, 509-607-0124 or
For information about American Peace Activist, contact CWU Professor Jay Ball, 501-353-4642 or
To reserve a table for the Marketplace of Ideas, email Bonnie Hendrickson at or Randi Gibbons at

May 4, 2015