Freedom in Academia Essay Contest

The Freedom in Academia Essay Contest, sponsored by FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights In Education) gives out seven prizes each year. One first place prize of $5000, one second place prize of $2500 and five runner up prizes of $1000. All the applicant has to do is familiarize themselves with FIRE’s mission statement, watch some videos, and then answer the essay question, which is generally somewhere along the lines of, “Why is free speech important at our nation’s colleges and universities? Using examples from both videos, discuss how these universities violated the featured students’ rights and why these violations are incompatible with higher education.” The essay must be between 800 and 1000 words long. This scholarship closes around November of each year and winners are announced in December.

FIRE’s mission statement is to “defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities.” The individual rights, as listed on their website, are as follows: “freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity.” They try to raise awareness of any rights violations in higher education, and they often visit colleges to give speeches. FIRE searches for any case of free speech being stifled, and fights to fix it. A full list of the causes they have supported maybe found on their website. They encourage student involvement, and have many ways to get involved on their website, such as writing to administrators or hosting a FIRE speaker. However, such involvement is not necessary to apply for The Freedom in Academia Essay Contest.

The Freedom in Academia Essay Contest Encourages Students To Discuss Individual Rights

The Freedom in Academia Essay Contest is completely merit based, meaning that anyone may win, regardless of income or other financial rewards received. The application is simpler than most other scholarship applications, and is just an online form asking some general information about the applicant (address, school name, contact information). This scholarship is perfect for someone who loves to write and is passionate about individual rights. It is also a good scholarship for those who don’t quite qualify for as much financial aid as they would like. It also doesn’t require a very large time investment-watching the videos and familiarizing yourself with FIRE can be done in an afternoon.

The time invested in the essay is up to you, but the essay length requirement is not very long, for a topic that could probably be discussed for days on end. An applicant can be assured that they won’t have a difficult time finding something to write about. Overall, this scholarship is accessible to anyone.

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