Victor leads corporate political speech rights brown bag

Dr. Elizabeth Victor

Visiting Philosophy Professor Dr. Elizabeth Victor has been leading a brown bag series on corporate political speech rights in the Morris University Center (MUC). The series began with its first meeting on September 10th, will continue on September 24th, and will come to a close on October 15th.

In every brown bag session, Victor hopes to challenge students from different academic disciplines with questions on corporate political issues. Each session lasts from 11:30 am to 1 pm, so students are encouraged to come to the room assigned for the session in the MUC before, during, or after they eat lunch, whichever works with their schedules.

Victor just joined SIUE’s philosophy department at the beginning of the fall semester, and she is passionate about encouraging students to ask important political and business questions. She earned her Ph.D. this past summer from the University of South Florida, and before joining SIUE, she served as a Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University.

Each brown bag session has a specific theme that all connect to the broader picture of corporate political speech issues. Students need not attend one session to understand another, though, as all sessions have unique individual themes that are in themselves salient to current political issues.

On September 10, Victor led discussion with students in the University Club room that revolved around the fundamentals of corporate political speech and how the landmark Supreme court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has changed it. The first discussion was meant to give students background information in the concept of corporate political speech and how it connects with Citizens United.

Victor brings her expertise in corporate speech and business ethics to the series to offer talking points to students and to encourage them to think on topics that are important for any United States citizen to consider.

“I think that anybody who’s lived through the last decade has seen the effect that corporations have on our lives,” she says. “This is…[an] area in our lives…that’s a constitutive part of our liberal democracy, that corporations are entering into in a very big way. And that’s not to say that we should hesitate or recoil in response to this. At the very least, we should think long and hard about what it means to give corporations the same rights as natural persons.”

Victor feels that this topic is especially timely, considering the upcoming presidential election. She believes that when seeing a political campaign advertisement, a voter should know how to assess the corporate information presented to them.

“I think that it’s important, especially given the presidential campaign, to call attention to how we go about judging information that’s out there,” says Victor.

With the highly political aspect of the topic, Victor does not want students to be shy about expressing their viewpoints and questioning others, as she sees this as important for stimulating discussion. She also believes that students, wherever their political alliance lies, should gain information on this issue.

“This is something that, regardless of your political affiliations, is going to affect where speech enters the marketplace of ideas,” Victor says. “Regardless of which side you’re rooting for, so to say, where the money comes from matters.”

Further, Victor believes that the topics presented in the brown bag series are those that anyone living in a liberal society should consider.

“The first duty we have is to be a well-informed public and to know what’s going on and why it matters. We have a duty to be responsible, well-informed citizens,” she says.

Victor will be hosting the next brown bag session on Monday, September 24th, in the Willow Room at the MUC. The theme of the next session is “How is Citizens United changing the face of political campaigns in the United States?”

The theme of the last session on Monday, October 15th, will address the following questions: “Do shareholders control corporate political speech? Should they?” This last session will be held at the University Club in the MUC.

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