Introducing Jordan Von Bokern from University of Chicago Law School
June 19, 2012
Jordan Von Bokern is a rising second-year law student at the University of Chicago Law School. Jordan is a graduate of Colorado State University in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado, where he studied political science and history.
Of his decision to come to FIRE as a legal intern this summer, Jordan writes:
Welcome to FIRE, Jordan!
During my time at Colorado State, I worked for the student government in several roles, including running the funding process for student events and representing undergraduates on the university's curriculum committee. This exposed me to the inner workings of university governance and got me involved in such issues as academic freedom and student rights on campus. These experiences piqued my interest in the law and governance of higher education institutions, and FIRE's resources gave me plenty of guidance during those years. I was dismayed when I looked up CSU on FIRE's website and found a "yellow light" rating for its speech codes, meaning there were policies that were ambiguous and could be used to deny students their expressive rights on campus. I also found out that FIRE had come to the defense of CSU's student newspaper when the editorial board ran a column using strong language to criticize President Bush and the university considered firing the editor responsible. This drove home for me that denials of student rights in universities were not as rare or distant as I'd always assumed.
When I came to law school, I knew I wanted an opportunity to help defend constitutional rights on university campuses. FIRE's Internship Program offered the perfect opportunity for this, providing first-hand experience defending these rights and advocating for recognition of the value that freedom offers to colleges and universities. I'm motivated in the work I do for FIRE not just because the law is on our side, but also because I believe that freedom in academic institutions is a core tenet of our democratic system and a touchstone of American values. I've seen the efforts to squash public discourse and punish protected speech in colleges and universities, and I hope my work at FIRE will help make those infringements on student rights a relic of the past. I know my education would have been less valuable without the experience of participating in rallies, protests, and demonstrations, and I would have been intellectually impoverished if my classmates with unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints had been excluded from the free exchange of ideas on campus. I hope that I can ensure the same robust and challenging intellectual atmosphere is available for all students. Though my legal education has just begun, I've already learned enough to recognize the unparalleled benefits offered by freedom and the dangers posed by governmental overreach.