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Behind the Scenes: The making of "Schooling the First Amendment" Map Story

As researchers, it’s important for us to be very transparent about any resource we design. It's also a key way to combat charges of fake news!

Although this phase of the project took about three months to complete, moving forward we will be able to make more frequent updates to the map to keep it relevant. We also will be able to add more information based on feedback from you and trends in this debate.

Procedures for the campus speaking engagements and student counter-protest database:

We defined “student protest” very broadly as any material demonstration in reaction to a scheduled speaker. This includes but is not limited to disinvitations* or cancellation attempts.

Search terms utilized to construct the database included, speaker protests, college protests, campus protests, speaker cancellations, disinvited speakers. Articles or sites that mentioned other schools with similar protests, then led to specific searches, e.g. campus protest Middlebury College. Finally, a search was conducted within the college’s newspaper site to find protest coverage by students from said college or university. If there was no coverage in the school newspaper, a search was conducted for this protest in other news outlets. Generally, education outlets, e.g. The Chronicle or Inside Higher Ed, or larger news outlets, e.g. Wall Street Journal, were chosen.

*The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) keeps an extensive list of speaker disinvitations dating back to 2000.

Procedures for free speech bill search:

Search terms utilized included, free speech bills, free speech legislature, campus free speech bills. Articles that mentioned several states that had introduced similar legislation would then allow for searches by a specific state, e.g. free speech bill Wisconsin. This search might provide the name of the bill, e.g. HB 2615 in Arizona, which could also produce the text of the bill.

Basic procedures for creating the maps:

First, campus addresses were added into the database. A .csv file was then created and uploaded into ArcGIS Online and the map address function was utilized to geocode each campus. Next we utilized ArcMap to join the addresses to state shapefiles. This allowed us to map different data points and create focused maps that dealt with just one or two attributes and a single question. The shapefiles were downloaded from ArcMap and uploaded back to ArcGIS Online to utilize ESRI’s “mapstory” applications that help make the maps available online and interactive.

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