What defines us as a nation is our willingness to struggle through tough circumstances, said Anthony Romero ’87, director of the American Civil Liberties Union, during an Apr. 8 lecture at the Friend Center for Engineering. Romero spoke about some of the greatest challenges to civil liberties today, including LGBT rights, mass incarceration, immigration, abortion, and surveillance. Romero criticized political extremism and scapegoating for their detrimental role in many of these policy areas — for example, anti-abortion laws and the categorization of drugs as a criminal rather than public health issue. He also commended the millennial generation for its activist impact on policy — and lawmakers. Addressing the issue of surveillance and Internet restriction, Romero said, “I think your insistence that the Internet be free, that it be open, but not subject to government surveillance … is really your generation’s carrying of the torch.” The lecture was followed by a Q&A session moderated by sociology professor Edward Telles. When asked about the rights of students and duties of universities regarding sexual assault policies, Romero said, “I think President Eisgruber is taking [sexual assault policies] very seriously and that there is an effort now to build a fresh type of response and infrastructure that’s needed to ensure Title IX compliance in sexual assaults on college campuses.” He added that there can be no tolerance for sexual violence on college campuses, and universities have an obligation to ensure a respectful and safe educational environment. “I believe in freedom of speech; I don’t believe in a free-for-all,” Romero said. Despite current civil liberties concerns, however, Romero said that he remains hopeful about the future and the changes to come, especially for younger generations. “Easy things don’t define us,” he said, “… [what defines us is] only, are we willing to work through the tough stuff?”