We are back to providing regular updates to the website. The pandemic was a difficult time for so many. For the Center for First Amendment Studies, we continued to offer services to further education on First Amendment issues, and producing original research on the freedoms and limitations on freedoms.
At the same time, keeping the website up to date during the pandemic was difficult. We are happy to announce that the website will now be updated regularly with the happenings of the Center and with news items pertaining to the First Amendment.
Since the last update, there have been many happenings in the Center for First Amendment Studies as we continued our hard work through the pandemic era. Here are some of the Center’s highlights during the pandemic:
Constitution Day Events: The Center hosted Constitution Day for the University’s annual observance, along with co-sponsorship with Rick Burgener, Director of Government and Community Relations. The 2020 and 2021 events were held virtually, and in a hybrid online and in person format in 2022. The 2020 Constitution Day was held in conjunction with the 49er Industry Chat. Host James Ahumada, past ASI President and former Senior Advisor to Congressman Robert Garcia, helped guide the conversation on First Amendment interpretations and the rhetoric of public controversies. The 2021 Constitution Day event covered the topic of free speech in public schools in the context of the Supreme Court’s decision in Mahanoy v. BL. Panelists for the event included Uduak-Joe Ntuk (President, LBCC Board of Trustees), Megan West (for Fellow of CFAS, and Manager of Educational Partnerships for K-12, Florida at the Center for the Collaborative Classroom), and Dr. Craig R. Smith (Emeritus Director of the CFAS and former Trustee of the CSU system). Upon returning to campus in 2022, Constitution Day was held in Dr. Ann Johnson’s Gateway to Communication Studies course where panelists discussed their interest in communication and the Constitution and focusing on “all things considered” in the contemporary Supreme Court. Panelists for the event included Dr. Jason Whitehead from the Political Science Department, and Amy Yamasaki who provided a student perspective on the Supreme Court.
Campus Visits: The Center made visits to other college campuses in order to share research and expertise
on career development and First Amendment issues. For example, the Center participated on a panel at Fullerton College in order to share the ways that studying the First Amendment may contribute to a career in law, politics, public policy, academia, and a variety of other industries. Furthermore, the Center made a visit to the University of Nebraska for two talks. In Dr. Laurie Thomas Lee’s media law mass lecture course in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, we covered major issues pertaining to the First Amendment and mass media, and then answered thoughtful questions from students and future media industry professionals. Dr. Kristen Hoerl and Dr. Casey Ryan Kelly then hosted a brown bag discussion with graduate students in the Department of Communication Studies about how to get published in academic journals and how to publish in a journal like First Amendment Studies.
Student Development on Campus: The Center continued to provide for appearances to share expertise with students at CSULB. For example, the Division of Student Life and Development worked with the Center to provide an informational session and student forum on the nature and scope of free speech on college campuses during a general election. The Center also provides resources, a talk and a Q & A session for Graduate Assistants and Teaching Associates on issues pertaining to academic freedom in instructional contexts.
Service to National Associations: The Center’s Director provided valuable services to both the National Communication Association and the Broadcast Education Association. Highlights of the valuable contributions include serving as Editor for the NCA journals, First Amendment Studies and Communication and Democracy, serving as Chair for three years of the Freedom of Expression Division of NCA, and serving as Chair of the Law and Policy Division of the Broadcast Education Association.
Moderator of Community Forums: Consistent with First Amendment values of open dialogue and community conversation of issues that impact democratic life, the Center moderated two important forums in the city of Long Beach. First, the Center’s Director served as moderator for a meet and greet event for the candidates running for city elections. Candidates were present to speak on their respective platforms and to answer questions from the community. The sponsors for the candidate forum included the National Council of Negro Women-Long Beach, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.-Long Beach Alumnae Chapter, 100 Black Men of Long Beach, Inc., Long Beach Central Area Association, Long Beach NAACP Youth & College Chapters, Theta Alpha Omega Chapter of the AKA, Long Beach, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
The second forum consisted of an open forum with Chris Garner, General Manager of Long Beach Public Utilities and the Long Beach Utilities Commissions. At a time when natural gas prices were increasing significantly in Long Beach, members of the community attended the event in order to learn about why the gas bills were increasing, the impact of the increases on certain services like those provided by homeless shelters and churches, and to think about ways to meet the demand for energy in Long Beach that are cost effective and solve the needs of the community.
Supporting Student Research: The Center continued to provide support for student research on a host of First Amendment issues. In addition to the courses the Center designed (Comm 441: Freedom of Communication and Comm 442: Campaign Persuasion), the Center provided services for students presenting at academic conferences and advising research projects directly. For example, Julian Morales-Silva was inspired by the Center to conduct a research project on the Supreme Court’s decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. The research project took the form of a senior honors thesis, and was successfully presented and defended in front of the honors faculty of the university in order to graduate with honors.
The Center would like to thank you for being in communication and for attending to the events during the pandemic era despite not updating the website in that era. As we all faced the realities of the pandemic in different ways, the website was one of the things that gave way in order to remain invested in teaching the community and public about the nature, scope, and function of the First Amendment. We are excited to be back on campus, to be back in person, and to be in better condition such that the website is ready to be current in the post-pandemic world. We look forward to an exciting future!