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Podcast examines free speech on campus

| Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sophomore Evan DaCosta hosted the second installment of the “Pod. Country. Notre Dame.” podcast series Tuesday night to discuss free speech on college campuses. The event was held in the LaFortune ballroom and featured a panel composed of seniors Armani Vaniko Porter and Brendan Clemente, along with sophomore Nicholas Marr.

Editor’s note: DaCosta is a News writer and Marr is a Viewpoint columnist for The Observer.

DaCosta posed questions to the three students regarding the right to free speech, the relationship between freedom of expression and hate crimes and asked their thoughts on bringing controversial speakers to college campuses.

Throughout the panel, all three students unanimously expressed the need to protect freedom of expression, but each focused on different reasons for its importance.

Marr said he believes that amidst the various controversial speakers and opinions surfacing in recent years, speakers and academics in pursuit of truth are worth the listen.

“[Notre Dame students] have a bigger personal duty to pursue truth and seek truth because religion challenges us to do so,” he said. “That’s why Notre Dame has such a great place in higher education.”

Clemente closely followed Marr’s emphasis on truth by referencing Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

“The best remedy for a bad idea is a good idea,” he said “The good ideas, the right ones, the truth, will come through the marketplace and exchange of ideas.”

Clemente said it is through active conversation and this exchange of ideas that hateful rhetoric, such as racism, can be overturned.

While Marr and Clemente focused on those who are participating in conversations and utilizing free speech, Porter said he was more interested in those who are not speaking.

“When we begin to limit who can and cannot speak on campus, academia begins to lose its growth” he said.

Porter said his concerns in limiting campus speech were largely rooted in silence by exclusion, specifically citing experiences with marginalized communities.

“A huge part of this is figuring out whose voices are not being heard,” he added. “Figuring out why those voices aren’t being heard can tell you a lot about a university.”

Porter specifically called on Notre Dame for not hosting more speakers from the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, the Native American tribe who originally claimed the land on which Notre Dame resides.

“It is very rare that members of that tribe come here and we need to question why that is so,” he said.

John Duffy, a professor from the English department who researches ethics and rhetoric, said he thought the event fostered a good discussion and pushed for students to continue to the conversation even further.

“Once we establish that we have the right to invite speakers of diverse views, then as a community we need to decide what kinds of people we want to hear from and what kinds of people we are interested in hearing from,” he said.

DaCosta said he hopes to record the third podcast for the “Pod. Country. Notre Dame.” series by the end of the month.

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About Adrianna Fazio

Adrianna is a junior majoring in American Studies and Film, Television, and Theatre. She is originally from Palm Springs, CA but calls Boston and Cape Cod her pseudo-homes. She lives for "small world" connections and excellent bread & olive oil.

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