Introducing FIRE Summer Intern Alex Lewis
June 8, 2011
by Jaclyn Hall
Alex Lewis arrives at FIRE as a rising senior at Rutgers University, where he majors in Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies with a minor in Arabic. He is the Executive Director of the Rutgers Model Congress, which promotes civic engagement and empowerment for high school students. Alex also founded the BrosUniteD autism mentorship program through his fraternity, Theta Delta Chi. On his choice to intern with FIRE, Alex says:
I like to think that I took a "grassroots" path to the defense of free speech rights: my natural disposition towards outspokenness and iconoclasm often landed me smack-dab in the middle of controversy with administrators and teachers. Even before I had the vocabulary to advocate for the First Amendment in eloquent terms, I strongly believed in the right of an individual to freely possess, express, and defend his or her beliefs in the open marketplace of ideas. Too often, power structures attempt to (and do!) abridge this basic right. This abridgement is especially unacceptable in academia, because censorship prevents intellectual growth.
It is an exciting time to be a First Amendment advocate on the campus of a New Jersey state university. The wonderful diversity of the college community ensures that new ideas—and, unfortunately, new threats to these ideas—seem to appear daily. I know that there are cases in dire need of FIRE's careful attention right in my own "backyard." By the end of my internship, I hope to be better equipped to show administrators that a commitment to free speech entails much more than just a cursory tagline in a mission statement. To the journalist in me, free speech is a vital tool of the trade, and one that serves the discipline's ultimate goal of accountability in the public domain. To the citizen in me, free speech is a uniquely American ideal that makes our country what it is today.