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Students Examine Free Speech at PAC


Senior Camille Abadie was inspired by her Media, Law and Ethics class to explore questions of free speech. In her role as director of this year’s Public Affairs Conference (PAC), Abadie, an aspiring journalist, gathered a dedicated group of fellow students and got to work.

During the conference titled “Can I Say That? An Exploration of Free Speech,” students heard from experts on students’ rights, civil liberties, defamation, and satire. “Each of our speakers talked about a different angle of free speech,” says PAC speaker relations manager and junior Sophie Ungerleider, culminating in a thought-provoking and topical conference.

Principia’s Public Affairs Conference is the longest-running student-led conference in the United States. For Abadie, the conference is an opportunity to apply classroom topics that impact today’s world. Many of the issues covered in this year’s conference directly related to the student experience. “People got a better understanding of the First Amendment from a [legal] perspective,” says Abadie, “but also from a student perspective—what you can do, what your rights are, and how all of that fits into the world.”

The entire experience, Abadie says, has been insightful. It has also expanded her sense of free speech to “view everything on a sphere instead of just a flat, one-sided view. It’s enriching, and that’s been a great takeaway.”