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[VIRTUAL] You’ve Got Mail? Free Expression, Ballots, and Democratic Citizenship

You’ve Got Mail? Free Expression, Ballots, and Democratic Citizenship event page graphic: text on left; on right: hand putting ballot into a box

An online forum hosted by PEN America’s Campus Free Speech Program as part of our student-centered evening workshop series, Free Speech Live!

In the midst of a global pandemic, chronic legislative gridlock, a people’s movement driven by long-standing racial and criminal justice issues, and facing an election unlike any in memory, American democracy in 2020 finds itself in a precarious state. These challenges are compounded by a president who has been documented sowing doubt in the electoral process. Many are also concerned about seeming efforts to limit the capacities of the postal service, which many will be relying upon to cast their ballots. How should young people, as inheritors and new citizens of the American democratic experiment, interpret our current situation to chart a viable path forward?

Join PEN America’s Campus Free Speech Program for this online forum featuring a brief presentation, breakout discussion, and expert-facilitated Q&A session to discuss recent public debates pertaining to voting, mail-in ballots, and the postal service through the lenses of free expression and democratic citizenship. High school and college alumni of PEN America’s student programs and other members of our student network are welcome to join.



Ocean Gibson headshotOcean Gibson has taught English language and philosophy courses to high school students in a variety of pedagogical and international contexts. This past year, he has been teaching college courses on ancient philosophy as an adjunct professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He holds a BA in philosophy from Columbia University and a master’s in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School, where he pursued subjects at the crossroads of religion and politics. As a project coordinator, writer, and professor, he seeks to preserve the best of American thought traditions and remains passionate about vitalizing the possibilities of democratic governance, culture, and imagination.

Nicholas Perez headshotNicholas Perez is the program coordinator for campus free speech at PEN America. He supports PEN America’s advocacy, analysis, and outreach in the national debate around free speech and inclusion in higher education. Perez previously worked for the Columbia University Human Rights Advocates Program and consulted for the Human Rights Education and Training section at the United Nations. He holds a master’s degree from Columbia University in human rights and humanitarian policy and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in international politics. He also was a Global Leadership Fellow at Waseda University in Japan, a Model United Nations advisor at Mira Costa High School, and a forensics researcher for the Yahad-in Unum Genocide Research Agency.

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