FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2016
Contact: Mary Connolly
CFOG Essay Contest Chair
Ben Rosenfeld, a sophomore at Greenwich High School, has won the first prize of $1,000 in this year’s Connecticut Foundation for Open Government (CFOG) high school essay contest.
He wrote about recent student protests that have included demands that college administrators suppress speech that the protesting students believe is insensitive to racial minorities, women or other historically disempowered groups.
“The only appropriate time to limit speech is when a person or group of people blatantly advocate violence or discrimination,” he wrote. “All too often, groups protesting various speakers have claimed that ideas are ‘hateful’ and make them feel unsafe, without providing objective evidence.”
CFOG, a nonprofit educational organization, sponsors the essay contest each year to encourage thought and debate among students on public and freedom of information issues and to increase student knowledge of the value of open government in a democratic society.
A second prize of $500 was won by Jack Caplan, a senior at RHAM High School in Hebron. He wrote about the impact of public scrutiny, including cell phone videos, on law enforcement’s response to crime.
“It isn’t a very big secret that Americans have been, and always will be, in love with the idea of holding the government accountable. Recording law enforcement is just 21st century accountability,” he wrote. “It is significantly harder to dispute footage than it is an anecdotal narrative, and therefore makes cell phones the latest and greatest medium through which to keep a watchful eye over potential abuses of power.”
A third prize of $300 was won by Peter Bound, a junior at Greenwich High School, who wrote about Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposal for “confidential” trials in some cases for defendants up to age 25.
“While Governor Malloy’s efforts to secure greater protections for young adults within the criminal justice system do not necessarily come from a bad place, they still represent a substantial departure from the original intention of the Connecticut Constitution and the court system at large.”
Honorable mention awards of $50 went to Nicole DiMauro of Immaculate High School in Danbury and Greenwich High students Takema Kajita, Gregory Macora and Paris-sima Mohammadi.
Students were asked to write essays on one of three topics:
- Recent student protests have included demands that college administrators suppress speech that the protesting students believe is insensitive to racial minorities, women or other historically disempowered groups. Would the granting of these demands violate the First Amendment?
- FBI Director James Comey says increased public scrutiny of police officers, including cell phone videos, is making officers reluctant to aggressively respond to crime. Does the First Amendment protect a citizen’s right to videotape police?
- Connecticut’s governor has proposed “confidential” trials in some cases for defendants up to age 25. Would this conflict with the public’s right to know if the criminal justice system is run in a fair and responsible fashion?
Judges for the contest were Janet Manko, George Krimsky, Martin Margulies, Lyn Hottes, Forrest Palmer, Eileen FitzGerald and Mary Connolly.