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Past Events 

Prof. Cary Speaks About Promoting Free Speech at UVA

Think Again Director Mary Kate Cary spoke about  growing the free speech movement at UVA as part of the Third Thursday speaker series at the Lodge at Old Trail in Crozet. Using the most up-to-date statistics from student surveys, she explained why there is still much work to be done to encourage free speech and viewpoint diversity at UVA. She also highlighted new organizations on Grounds that want to promote civil discourse among those with differing views. These clubs demonstrate that students see the need for more work in the area. Professor Cary suggested steps students, administrators, and community members can do to support an environment of free expression, viewpoint diversity, critical thinking, and intellectual humility on Grounds.

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Disagree with a Professor

The Free Speech Friday event for March gave students the chance to sit down with a professor and challenge a position taken by that professor.  Many thanks to Professors David Leblang, Sherri Moore, Allan Stam, Paul Wagner, and Brad Wilcox for providing such great topics for discussion. The room was filled with lively conversation. Student feedback included, "I met a lot of people and I had great conversations about things I am very passionate about" and "I really liked having professors from other departments and disciplines." This event was cosponsored by Think Again and Heterodox Academy at UVA. The next event is expected in early April.

Food for Thought

Free Speech Fridays kicked off in February with Food for Thought. Students filled the multi-purpose room at the Rotunda to enjoy a lunch from Take It Away and conversation with those at their tables. Think Again proposed questions for the students to discuss, with topics ranging from the simple (favorite place on the Corner) to more complex (the last time you changed your mind about something). The food didn't last long, but students lingered around tables, getting to know one another and listening to each other's ideas. It was a great atmosphere to foster civil discourse, viewpoint diversity, and free expression. Think Again looks forward to hosting more events like this in the future. 

Student discuss questions with one another at tables during the Food For Thought luncheon.
Speaker at Governor's Summit on Free Speech addressing the audience

Virginia Higher Education Summit

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin addressed representatives from all sixteen colleges and universities across the commonwealth during the Higher Education Summit on Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity on November 29, 2023. The Summit, which was held at UVA's Newcomb Hall, was cosponsored by Think Again and the Karsh Institute of Democracy.   

Bo Seo Debate Workshop

Drawing from his experience as a two-time world debating champion, Bo Seo conducted a student workshop on October 19, 2023 that was sponsored by Think Again and the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Seo spoke with students about how to navigate disagreement constructively so that they can have enlightening and productive discussions inside and outside of the classroom. 

In addition to his interactive demonstration, Seo answered questions from Think Again’s Professor Mary Kate Cary, who moderated the event. Seo's session was part of the Karsh Institute of Democracy’s Democracy 360 weekend.

Professor Mary Kate Cary interviews Bo Seo on stage
Oratory Contest Winner Peter Lee Hamilton giving his speech

UVA Student Oratory Contest

What is the greatest strength of our democracy? Eight finalists in the third annual UVA Student Oratory Contest took on this question during their speeches before a live audience in the Dome Room of the Rotunda on Wednesday October 18, 2023. Their five-minute speeches highlighted different aspects of the uniquely American experiment with democracy. The panel of judges consisted of four former Presidential speechwriters from both parties and the winner of last year’s contest. They chose Peter Lee Hamilton as the winner. Hamilton, a graduate student completing the

JD/MBA program, received a $500 prize and is invited to return as a judge for next year’s competition. Watch his speech here: 2023 Student Oratory Contest Winning Speech  Other finalists included Ryan Conn, Thomas Davies, Nahor Hagos, Kellen Narke, Kyle Riopelle, Reese Whittaker, and Deanna Wilbourn. This year the UVA Student Oratory Contest was sponsored by Think Again, the Karsh Institute of Democracy, the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, the University Democrats, the College Republicans, and Middle Grounds.  

Strengthening Free Speech on Grounds

Strengthening free speech on UVA Grounds was the topic of a speech by Professor Mary Kate Cary at the Colonnade Club on Oct. 12, 2023. In her speech, which was attended by faculty, staff, and community members, she reviewed the state of free speech at the University. In the latest College Free Speech rankings by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), UVA comes in 6th for having the most open environment for free speech. Professor Cary dissected the research behind that ranking and demonstrated that

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Panel discussion with Drew McKnight, Professor Mary Kate Cary, and Professor Gerard Alexander

Building A Culture of Diversity

On November 9, 2022 at the Old Parkland Debate Chamber in Dallas, Texas, Think Again director Mary Kate Cary joined a panel discussion entitled, "Speaking of Free Speech: Building a Culture of Viewpoint Diversity on College Campuses." Panelists included UVA Professor Gerard Alexander, director of the Blue Ridge Center, and Professor Ilana Redstone, director of the Mill Institute at the University of Austin. A lively conversation about concrete steps universities across the nation can take to create viewpoint diversity was moderated by UVA alumnus Drew McKnight.

The Source of Basic Rights

No contrast highlights the importance of speech and other rights like that between authoritarian rule and democracy. Otto Warmbier was a UVA student on an academic trip when he was seized and abused by North Korea’s dictatorship. Five years ago, he died in a coma. On April 28, 2022, Think Again invited Otto’s parents and Theta Chi fraternity brothers; Yeon-Mi Park, the most prominent North Korean defector living in America; and UVA law professor Sai Prakash, who discussed where our basic rights come from and how they should and can be protected. 

Yeon-Mi Park, Professor Sai Prakash, and Professor Mary Kate Cary speak to audience
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