Tuesday marks UNC's tenth First Amendment Day, an annual celebration and discussion about the First Amendment and its role on college campuses.
On a campus facing fierce debate on the Silent Sam monument, organizers feel the importance of the First Amendment and its celebration is stronger than ever.
First Amendment Day began at UNC in 2009 under the direction of former media law professor Cathy Packer as part of a grant project from the Freedom Forum. In the ten years since the celebration's original foundation, David Ardia, co-director of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy, believes the emergence of new technology has created changes to how the First Amendment is viewed.
“People have very strongly held views around issues that sometimes come in conflict, and it's hard to deal with those sometimes, even when the person is right there next to you,” Ardia said. “You see them as a human being sharing space with you. And those challenges become exponentially more difficult when the other person is not anywhere near you and it's much easier to see them as not being a human being and affording them the same rights of respect and opportunities for civil discourse.”
First Amendment Day aims to plant a seed in students to keep in mind how important the First Amendment is no matter where one’s political leanings are, Ardia said.