KENTtalks brings students, organizations together to discuss free speech


Dr. Richard Serpe and Akhil Hill talk during the KENTTalks Let’s Talks Trump event in Tri-Towers rotunda on January 31, 2017. The event was held in order to help bring understanding to the different opinions on the recent presidential election.

Cameron Gorman

A panel discussion about free speech — and the idea of hate speech — will be held on Oct. 18 as part of the KENTtalks series. 

KENTtalks, which has been offered since Spring 2015, is a program focused on providing a space for student discussion on difficult topics and promoting civil discourse. Past subjects have included microaggressions and the election of Donald Trump, among others.

“The basic goal of it is just to promote civil discourse amongst our students, helping them to learn to agree to respectfully disagree, but coming together and being able to hear an opposing opinion and dialoguing through that and getting a better understanding of that person,” Sydney Jordan, the student activities coordinator for the Center for Student Involvement said. 

“KENTtalks: Free Speech” will be held in the Tri-Towers Rotunda from 6-8 p.m., and will be moderated by Amy Reynolds, the dean of the College of Communication and Information.

“It’s just kind of in reflection of our political climate, and helping students to understand what is hate speech, what is free speech, and what are the legal rights within that,” Jordan said. “Because again, we have lots of different views on campus, and it’s really an opportunity to come together with students to educate them about what are their legal rights, what are the legal rights of others, and then having them have a space where they can share their experiences with these two topics.”

The event will feature a panel of representatives from several organizations on campus such as Black United Students, the College Democrats, the College Republicans, Turning Point USA, PRIDE! Kent, Students for Justice in Palestine, Model NATO and Young Americans for Liberty in a moderated discussion that will include opportunities for audience participation.

There will be at least one installment of KENTtalks per semester, Jordan said — though the topics will depend on the climate and response from students.

“I think there are lots of emotions that go into these topics, but I feel like students have been really good at balancing their emotions with intellect … the whole goal is to really give students a chance to talk the whole time,” Jordan said. “It’s really about students, and trying to make sure that our moderators are giving the students that opportunity.”

Cameron Gorman is the humanities reporter. Contact her at [email protected]