Next Thursday, April 21, the Wabash Democracy of Public Discourse (WDPD) will host Dr. Dale Herbeck’s talk titled “Tending the Nurseries of Democracy: Mahonoy Area School District v. B.L. and the Future of Student Speech Rights” for its annual Free Speech Keynote. Dr. Herbeck is a professor of Communication Law, Cyberlaw, and Freedom Law at Northeastern University. He received his undergraduate degree from Augustana College in Communication and Political Science and his Master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Iowa in Communication Studies. His keynote speech will be centered around the free speech cases that specifically deal with the speech rights of students and public education settings. 

Dr. Sara Drury, director of the WDPD program at Wabash, gave a brief history of the event, which began in 2014 with a talk by alumnus, David Kendall ’66, titled, “The First Amendment and the Internet: Was Mark Twain Right?” Kendall is most notable for being Bill and Hillary Clinton’s lawyer during their legal troubles and gave his speech regarding free speech emphasizing the digital era. This talk sparked the tradition of Free Speech Keynote addresses at Wabash and has since designed this event around bringing in speakers and listeners within the student body and faculty who share a passion for the different interpretations and capabilities of the First Amendment. Drury brought up the various possibilities of the First Amendment in modern times as a product of our increasing means of communication regarding free speech at the university level. She also emphasized the uniqueness of the perspectives ranging from the limits of free speech and journalism to the vast nature of free speech in our technological era. 

Herbeck’s talk will focus on the freedom of expression, and will allow for audience feedback and conversation throughout.

According to Drury, the event would resemble an interactive dialogue, which would permit frequent audience participation. Drury furthered her remark, stating that there will be opportunities for the audience members “to engage with ideas and offer questions not only to Professor Herbeck but also to their fellow students and broader Wabash community.” This form of conversation will allow for the improved understanding of all those in attendance. Still, it will also nicely embody the aspects of individuality and education that set apart the Wabash experience.

Next Thursday at 7.30 p.m. in Baxter 101, Dr. Dale Herbeck will discuss recent free speech cases and their effect on students’ speech rights. The Free Speech Keynote would be an enlightening and worthwhile experience for anyone interested in the various possibilities of the First Amendment in society today.