Campus Life

Heard on Campus: 'The First Amendment and Diversity and Inclusion'

Panelists Carla Pratt, left, Stephen Ross, Victor Romero, and (in monitor) Robert Richards discussed and fielded questions regarding free speech issues at 'The First Amendment and Diversity and Inclusion Panel Discussion' held the evening of Oct. 27 at the HUB-Robeson Center's Freeman Auditorium. Credit: Patrick Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

“We don’t need a constitution, we don’t need a First Amendment, to protect the viewpoints and ideas that everybody likes. The majority takes care of itself. You need a First Amendment to protect the minority viewpoint, the unpopular viewpoints, the viewpoints that people despise or would much rather have eradicated from public discourse. … We cannot allow government, we cannot allow the majority, to censor speech just because, as Justice (William) Brennan so aptly said, that the vast majority of society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”

-- Robert D. Richards, John and Ann Curley Professor of First Amendment Studies in the College of Communications at Penn State, spoke during a panel discussion titled “The First Amendment and Diversity and Inclusion” on Oct. 27 in Freeman Auditorium in the HUB-Robeson Center.

Richards was joined on the panel by three other Penn State legal scholars: Carla Pratt, associate dean for academic affairs and educational equity, professor of law, and Nancy J. LaMont Faculty Scholar at Dickinson Law; Stephen Ross, professor of law and Lewis H. Vovakis Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Penn State Law; and Victor Romero, associate dean for academic affairs, professor of law, and Maureen B. Cavanaugh Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Penn State Law.

Hosted by Penn State President Eric Barron and Vice Provost for Educational Equity Marcus Whitehurst, and moderated by Vice President and General Counsel Stephen S. Dunham, the panel discussion was part of “All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion,” an ongoing University-wide commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment at Penn State.

To learn more about the “All In” initiative and view a calendar of upcoming diversity and inclusion events, visit To view the panel discussion in its entirety, visit

Last Updated November 09, 2016