Introducing FIRE Summer Intern Brian Mink
June 6, 2008
by Luke Sheahan
Brian Mink comes to FIRE's summer internship program from the University of Georgia (UGA), where he is a rising sophomore majoring in International Affairs and History. A staff writer for UGA's campus paper The Red & Black, Brian is also involved with UGA's student government. As a freshman he chaired an exploratory committee to form "Liberty Dawgs," a student organization dedicated to defending civil liberties at UGA. On how he acquired his passion for individual rights and why he came to FIRE, Brian writes:
Having dealt with issues of free speech as editor of an often controversial high school newspaper, I arrived at college expecting to be immersed in a unique academic culture that not only tolerates differences in thought but embraces them. Instead, I was greeted at my first resident hall meeting with notification of the University of Georgia's Acts of Intolerance policy. Imagine my surprise as the unconstitutional policy was read aloud, complete with vague language, viewpoint-based bans on "jokes, posters or comments," and the caution that it didn't matter how we intended our speech, only that someone else might be offended by it.
My anger was soon supplanted by a sense of complacency until I took a journalism class in which we spent several class days discussing speech codes on campuses across the country. After we discussed FIRE's cases at the University of Delaware and Tufts, I knew I had to learn more on my own. What I found, upon my first visit to FIRE's website, was that I was not alone in believing that colleges ought to be a place where critical thinking and vigorous debate are prized possessions, rather than mere secondary goals to which administrators occasionally pay lip-service. My goal in interning at FIRE this summer is to learn all that I can so I can return to UGA in the fall without any complacency or fatalism towards unconstitutional restrictions on speech. Freedom is simply too important to be satisfied with anything less.