The Nicholson School of Communication and Media was proud to host Free Speech Week from October 17th-20th. This celebration of the First Amendment was highlighted by four events, each one exploring how important free speech is as a human right and how it was, and still is, fought for around the world.

The Free Speech Expert Panel consisted of Jamie Holmes, Nancy Alvarez, Dr. Nan Yu and Dr. Luis Martinez-Fernandez and was hosted by Katie Coronado. Panelists were asked about their experience with and views on free speech from the fields of journalism and education. Once they were finished with the questions from the host, students and other audience members were able to ask questions of their own, fueling a lively discussion.

In an interview, I got to sit down with some members of the panel experts and asked them why we should care about free speech and what drives them to promote freedom of speech.

Question: Why should we care about freedom of speech?

Dr. Luis Martinez-Fernandez, a leading historian of the Caribbean and Pegasus Professor of History at the University of Central Florida, stated that “for all the activities I engage in, it is essential that I don’t feel threatened or intimidated and that there are no retaliations against whatever I may say or write…it is essential that I don’t let others censor me.”
Nancy Alvarez, an award-winning first generation Cuban American journalist adds that freedom of speech “is the very basic foundation of our country and of everything we do. Every single morning in newsrooms across the country, our free speech is being debated when stories are pitched and discussed.”
Jamie Holmes, an anchor and journalist for over 25 years, also mentions that “it is at greater risk now than I think it’s ever been before. There is more permeance of propaganda and bias in journalism across the board with social media than there has ever existed, so it’s truly incumbent that we retain the right to have that freedom of speech and be able to give people the ability to express themselves.”
Nan Yu
Nan Yu, Professor and Associate Director for Academic Programs and Student Services at the Nicholson School of Communication and Media, says that “Freedom of speech is a basic human right and [is] essential to the market of ideas, without which human wisdom will be limited.”


Filthy Dreamers is a documentary about women’s history in America, highlighting the struggles and accomplishments in the fight for equal education and academic freedom. Director Lisa Mills, one of NSCMs own faculty, was happy to screen her work to add historical perspective on the fight for human rights from a point of history not too far from where we are now. More information about the documentary can be found here.

The UCF Speech and Debate team also presented an exhibition. The team used their voices to advocate for change in the world and had a free speech themed debate. Jonathan Conway, Associate Instructor and Director of Forensics explains that the topic of the debate was about if granting law enforcement unfettered access to social media (an infringement on free speech) did more harm than good. The debaters considered the values of safety to the public over the need for privacy and personal security.

The final event to close out the weeklong event was the Braver Angels Keynote event. Braver Angels is an organization that is devoted to bridging the partisan divide in the United States through dialogue. Randy Lioz and John Wood, Jr. of Braver Angels joined to talk about the crucial need for dialogue and understanding when discussing matters of politics. Each of the speakers came from a different side of the political aisle but were united in their mission to see debates and discussions in politics be more productive and levelheaded than we’ve seen in political discourse these past couple years. The event engaged the audience members and ended with an example discussion between the two speakers about recent Florida legislation.

Randy Lioz (left) and John Wood Jr. (right)

The Nicholson School of Communication and Media was proud to host Free Speech Week this year and are looking forward to doing so next year! We are also honored to have our esteemed guests who have freely discussed and expressed their ideas and opinions on freedom of speech. All are encouraged to come and participate for next year’s event!

By Majdulina Hamed.

Published to Nicholson News on November 1st, 2022.

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