Introducing Summer Intern Christa Brashier
June 22, 2010
by Luke Sheahan
Christa Brashier is a rising junior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), where she majors in K-6 Education. Christa is also the Pennsylvania state coordinator for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC). While trying to form an SCCC chapter at CCAC, Christa faced an egregious act of censorship that became a top FIRE case. On why she decided to intern at FIRE, Christa writes:
On the Pennsylvania application for a license to carry firearms, where you are asked to provide a reason for your application, I selected "self-defense"—not hunting, gun-collecting, employment, target shooting, or the dubious "other." I have met all of the requirements including the requisite training, background check, references, psychological and physical health. But my college has a weapons policy which prohibits carrying, even with a license.
At the time I was under the impression that "the Academy" was an institution specifically designed for the sake of discussion, debate, and the collision of ideas in such a way that everyone leaves with a more profound understanding of personal beliefs, if not actual truths. In the face of current events it seemed particularly pressing that we "figure this out" by opening discussion and debate on guns on campus. That was the answer I gave to the Dean of Student Life when she thrust my pamphlet, designed to begin a chapter of the national student advocacy group Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, into my face and demanded an explanation. "You may want to discuss it, but the college does not, and you cannot make us." Sticks and stones may break my bones but the words "destroy every copy" hurt... everyone! All at once she deprived me of an education, fellow students of the opportunity to present dissenting views (or to agree!), the professoriate from being made aware of an issue they may have overlooked... and that felt like the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
FIRE has a direct link on SCCC's main website—and that was the day I found out why. From then on I became increasingly aware of the injustices of college administrations violating established law by imagining their students as children in need of parenting. Thanks to education and defense provided pro-bono by FIRE, I have been a major thorn in the side of my college's administration whenever it oversteps its bounds. After attending the CFN Conference in the summer of ‘09, winning my "case" with the help of public scrutiny, being awed by FIRE's 10th anniversary celebration, and reading through their literature and many of their cases—I could not be more pleased to introduce myself as one of FIRE's 2010 summer interns.