What does the first amendment mean to you?

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Brianna Korich, Journalist

In honor of Universal Access to Information Day, the Royal Purple asked three political student organizations on the UW-W campus “What does the First Amendment mean to you?” It’s an amendment, which gives them their right to freedom of speech. 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Amendment prohibits the government from making any laws that restrict the press and individual citizens from speaking freely about important issues in our society. 

The College of Democrats was the first organization we asked to answer the question. 

The first amendment is all about the freedoms of the people. I am someone who believes we should all have freedom of speech, religion, assembly, petition, and expression but I think these things often get twisted in our society and we accept hurtful things happening in the name of personal freedoms,” chair of the College of Democrats Brianna Deacon said. “For example, I believe in free speech but not to the point of hate speech; I believe in the freedom to practice whatever religion one pleases but not to the point of forcing one’s religion on others, etc.”

The College of Republicans was the second student organization we asked to answer the question of what the First Amendment meant to them. 

“As a conservative college student, the first amendment is especially important to me because it ensures that I have a platform to share my beliefs with my peers and allows me to hold weekly gatherings of students on campus to continue the exchange of ideas and discourse outside the classroom,” College of Republicans chair John Beauchamp said. 

Beauchamp continued to mention that any student on campus is welcomed to join meetings Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in Timothy J. Hyland Hall in room 2312 to have civil discussions on current topics and events. 

The Whitewater Student Government (WSG) was the last organization we asked to answer the question. 

“To me personally, the First Amendment means that I am able to use my right of freedom of speech to stand up for what I believe in and be an advocate for others, while also empowering myself and those around me,” Whitewater Student Government Vice President Allyson Weisbrod said. 

Similar to the freedom of the press and the First Amendment is the access to that information. Individuals have the right to not only speak, but also to seek, receive and communicate information. The media uses this access of information to inform the public on issues of interest and relies on the ability to seek and receive information. The International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) which is on Tuesday, Sept. 28th celebrates this First Amendment right.

If you want to learn more about IDUAI, visit https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/accesstoinformationday or https://www.un.org/en/observances/information-access-day

To learn more about College Democrats and College Republicans visit https://www.uww.edu/rock/campus-life/student-orgs.

To learn more about Whitewater Student Government visit https://www.uww.edu/wsg.

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