Forum to explore legal issues around campus dialogue

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

image of a blackboard that says "free speech"
A discussion and open forum will take place Oct. 16 at the MUB.

When First Amendment rights to free speech run headlong into objections over offensive speech on a college campus, which takes precedence? Just how far do your legal rights of expression go? Do you have a right to be heard, for that matter? And what, if anything, can anyone on campus, from students to UNH leadership, actually do when they hear, read or see messages they find deeply offensive?

Delicate questions as the UNH community continues its dialogue around free speech, campus climate and respectful conversation following racially charged incidents that came into the spotlight last spring. To explore the legal perspective on these issues, a panel of UNH School of Law faculty scholars is coming to Durham for a discussion and open forum, Offensive Speech and the First Amendment, on Oct. 16 at 5 p.m. in the Granite State Room of the MUB.

Moderated by UNH School of Law Dean Megan Carpenter, the event features four faculty members who have studied First Amendment law extensively, from legal theory to its practical application in daily life. The panelists will offer a fresh, informed perspective to the dialogue around free speech, offensive speech and the First Amendment and the ongoing work of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate.

The UNH Law panelists include Leah Plunkett, faculty fellow for accreditation standards, associate professor of legal skills and director of academic success; John Greabe, associate dean for faculty research and development and professor of law; Alexandra Roberts, associate professor of law; and Bahzad Mirhashem, associate professor of law and director of the criminal practice clinic.

Following the panel discussion, audience members will be invited to ask questions, moderated by Carpenter.