Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Blog By Any Other Name--Chicago State's HIred Mouthpieces Weigh In

Taking a closer look at the letter received yesterday from the outside attorneys apparently hired by the university reveals that there seem to be three newly articulated objections to the Chicago State University faculty blog: 1) the blog is designed to give “the reader the false impression that the opinions expressed on the site are endorsed by and originate from the CSU faculty as a whole”; 2) the site’s “problematic” URL “give[s] Internet readers searching for information about CSU –including prospective students—the impression that the faculty as a whole has approved of the site”; 3) the blog continues to “use a distinctive photographic image of the CSU campus . . . This photograph of the CSU hedges is the largest and most prominent visual element on . . . [the] Blog; only on a closer second inspection does the smaller text appear above the hedges, where the CHICAGO STATE UNIVERSITY mark has been altered with the word “Crony” superimposed over Chicago.” In addition, the letter recycles the old arguments that the blog creates the “impression that the site is authorized by CSU, which it is not.” and finally, the letter claims that “pop-up ads” on the site might be a violation of the “Lanham Act” which “prohibits the use of a registered or unregistered mark in commerce when the designation is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception.” Of course, this claim neglects to mention the fact that the Faculty Voice is not a commercial site.

I will not attempt to argue the merits of points 1 and 3 except to say that the idea of any faculty on any campus speaking with a unified voice on any issue seems ludicrous. In fact, as the November 27 letter from Wesley Johnson points out, the bloggers are all CSU faculty members. The second point, the one about the “confusion” caused by the site’s URL is a little easier to address since there is actually extant evidence with which to evaluate that claim.

A Google search this morning on my computer for “Chicago State University” resulted in the discovery that the “CSU Faculty Voice” link appears on page three as the twenty-seventh entry returned by the search engine, right below the link to the Illinois Auditor General’s web page. As seems obvious from the page below, the URL for Chicago State is: In contrast, the “confusing” URL for the Faculty Voice is: Hard to imagine how two web addresses could be more alike, no? At the bottom of the search results, the faculty blog does not even appear in the list of “searches related to Chicago State University.”

Changing the search parameters on my computer to "CSU" returns one result for Chicago State University and a link at the bottom of the page to the Faculty Voice. Of course, the search responses on other computers will differ. See what you get when you enter CSU. Here is the bottom of the page from my computer:

I will leave the arguments about the issues raised by the recent letter to my learned friends in the legal profession. However, it seems somewhat far-fetched to claim that the faculty's blog can be easily confused with the official Chicago State website.


  1. Quick search this morning on my computer:
    When searching "Chicago State University" the csufacultyvoice blog shows up on page 4.
    When searching "CSU" the csufacultyvoice blog shows up on p. 7
    Why does the administration keep dancing around the elephant in the room? Stop doing stuff that gives us fodder for the blog and we will stop blogging. It's very simple. The Administration might consider a refresher course in political science and history: when the voiceless have no other outlets to express their opposition to the governance imposed on them be it from a king or a board of trustees or a university president--they do the only thing they can--they take it to the street.

  2. I was brought here by reading the article on the tribune website. I think the admin needs to look up the "Streisand effect."

    Keep up the good work!