FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JUNE 1, 2017
Contact: Frank LoMonte, SPLC Executive Director
A Missouri graduate student and four college undergraduates have won fellowships awarded by the Student Press Law Center to design and carry out “press freedom service projects” meeting the needs of local teens.
The SPLC named its second annual class of Active Voice fellowship recipients Thursday following a successful inaugural run of the project, which is designed both to help diversify the field of First Amendment advocacy and to build a support system for high-school journalists struggling to exercise their free-press rights.
The fellows will begin work with the start of the fall 2017-18 school term. They are:
Jamie Crockett, an M.A. student at the University of Missouri.
Melissa Gomez, a rising senior at the University of Florida.
Paula Pecorella, a rising senior at Stony Brook University.
Savannah Robinson, a rising junior at the University of Southern California.
Naba Siddiq, a rising sophomore at Texas Tech University.
The Active Voice is a civic incubator, providing students with a passion for training others about press freedom with the tools and training to develop innovative methods of amplifying the voices of students in K-12 schools who encounter obstacles from authority.
The SPLC launched the program, tailored specifically to address the “gendering” of censorship in high schools, after a study by University of Kansas researchers documented that young women experience direct school censorship and self-imposed “anticipatory” censorship at rates markedly higher than male students.
Fellows were chosen from a nationwide pool in a competitive application process based on demonstrated commitment to press freedom and women’s empowerment, ability to communicate the needs of teen journalists to a larger audience, and creativity in developing concepts for Active Voice projects. Each fellow will design and implement a project of her own choosing, with help from SPLC-recruited mentors from the legal and communications fields, aimed at advancing the welfare of students who face adversity in speaking about issues of public concern. The fellows will blog about their projects at www.theactivevoice.org over the course of the school year, and present their findings in April 2018 at the Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication at Florida International University.
“At a time when First Amendment freedoms are being tested from the highest echelons of government down to the college campus level, we need new and inventive ways to change the conversation. We’re counting on these fellows to use their creativity to elevate the discussion about the civic value of uncensored young voices,” said Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center. “The Active Voice fellowship program represents the SPLC’s investment in stopping the disempowerment of strong, opinionated young women in schools, and in building the ‘Triple-A farm team’ of future First Amendment advocacy all-stars.”
“The initial class of Active Voice fellows — Darlene Aderoju, Nashwa Bawab, Shine Cho, Sophie Gordon and Sindhu Ravuri — showed us what’s possible when innovative young women are unleashed to solve problems in their communities. We’re excited to see what this class of fellows will design, and where they’ll go in the future with the benefit of some coaching and mentorship,” LoMonte said.
The SPLC is seeking sponsors for fellowship positions this year and into the future; information about becoming a sponsor is available at www.theactivevoice.org.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Student Press Law Center is an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1974 to provide free legal assistance and training tailored to the needs of student journalists and journalism educators at the college and K-12 levels nationwide. Information about the work of the SPLC and an array of free legal research materials can be found at www.splc.org.
**This news release was updated Sept. 26