Exploring free speech and corporate power: Sydney Jordan

Focus on Undergraduate Research

By Jenifer Jonson

Sydney Jordan
Sydney Jordan 2019 Moses Taylor Pyne Honor Prize winner. Photo by Denise Applewhite

Sydney Jordan found inspiration for her thesis from a course on free speech in the internet age. “After coming to the conclusion that the government had limited ability to impose restrictions on companies’ interaction with speech,” Jordan said, “I wanted to explore whether corporations’ own moral obligations might compel them to enact, or remove, particular restrictions.”

Jordan “asks the questions that need to be asked,” said her senior thesis adviser, Daniel Garber, the A. Watson Armour, III, University Professor of Philosophy.

A busy student athlete — Jordan was a three-year-starter on the women’s basketball team — she credits Garber with helping her to unravel complicated ideas and conduct her research through a title-winning season her senior year.

Her thesis explores some modern examples of corporations’ responses to free speech, including the NFL’s response to Colin Kaepernick’s protest and Twitter’s hateful-conduct policy.

Jordan was the co-winner (with Annabel Barry) of Princeton’s Moses Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, the highest general distinction given to an undergraduate.