Thursday, March 5, 2015

We're no. 7!!! ...out of 10 of the Worst Offenders of 2014 for Free Speech on Campus

Just in time for the Board of Trustees meeting tomorrow news came out this week that Chicago State University has one more achievement to boast about --we are on the list of the top 10 Ten worst schools for trying to suppress free speech on campus. See the link below for the full article with the names of the other institutions cited.

Hey, Anthony Young, I hope you and rest of your Board continue to encourage and reward all those on campus who have brought us to the status of 7th worst offender. On top of this we beat out the University of Illinois--they follow us in this ranking! And while you're bestowing honors on the administration's work to restrict free speech on campus do please give yourselves a pat on the back. With the new capricious restrictions you've imposed this year regarding who can speak at this public university's public comment period during what are supposed to be public board meetings we should be able to make it to 1st place on this list next year. Great publicity for Chicago State. Thanks for this all you board members. Thanks a lot.

Now, excuse me while I adjust my muzzle.

Free Speech on Campus: The 10 Worst Offenders of 2014
      Posted: 03/02/2015 9:38 am EST Updated: 03/02/2015 5:59 pm EST
by Greg Lukianoff,  President, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

College is the place where students should be encouraged to, as Yale promises, "think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable." Unfortunately, schools all across the country not only fall short on promises of free expression and academic freedom but openly suppress constitutionally protected speech on campus by using tools such as speech codes to shut down forms of expression that might be uncomfortable, disagreeable, or even offensive to some members of the campus community.

To give a clearer picture of campus censorship, we at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) today announce our fourth annual list of the top 10 threats to free speech on campus.

While I explained in December why I think 2014 might be remembered as the "Year of the Heckler," the most significant event for FIRE last year was the launch of our ambitious and large-scale Stand Up for Speech Litigation Project. In order to try to end the problem of campus speech codes once and for all, students and faculty members worked with the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine to file lawsuits against six colleges, including Ohio University, Iowa State University, Chicago State University, the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Citrus College in California, and, most recently, Western Michigan University.

We're happy to report that some colleges, like the University of Hawaii at Hilo, were receptive to working with FIRE and our lawyers to swiftly and amicably fix their unconstitutional codes. But as you will see, some colleges, including Chicago State University, acted quite differently.

Note that not every "honoree" is a college or university, the list is presented in no particular order, and several honorees like Brandeis University and the Department of Education are repeat offenders.
Let us know if your school or alma mater should've been on the list, or if you have been censored on campus. FIRE is happy to work with schools to improve their speech codes. You can find more information on our website at

Chicago State University
Two professors have sued Chicago State University (CSU) as part of FIRE's Stand Up for Speech Litigation Project for attempting to censor their blog, CSU Faculty Voice, which is highly critical of CSU's administration. CSU's attempts to silence the two professors have been heavy-handed and contrived and include disciplinary charges for "cyber-bullying" based on a two-minute face-to-face conversation. That's not all, however: Two students filed a lawsuit against CSU alleging that the university shut down the independent student newspaper, invalidated their election to the student government, and ultimately expelled one of them, all as part of a campaign to stop them from drawing attention to corruption within the administration. CSU's former legal counsel received a $3-million award when he sued after CSU fired him for reporting misconduct by senior university officials. CSU president (and defendant) Wayne Watson recently announced that he will retire in 2016. Perhaps this signals that the period of rule by censorship and fear at CSU is coming to an end. In the meantime, however, CSU richly deserves its spot among the worst threats to campus free speech.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Late last summer, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) sparked an intense, nationwide debate over civility and professors' right to free speech when it rescinded its job offer to Steven Salaita, who had left a tenured faculty position at Virginia Tech to join UIUC's American Indian Studies program. The university revoked Salaita's offer over controversial anti-Israel statements made from his personal Twitter account. After the decision was made public, UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise emailed the UIUC community and explained that Salaita was not hired because UIUC would not tolerate "personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them." FIRE and other free speech advocates denounced UIUC's treatment of Salaita, but the UIUC Board of Trustees refused to reconsider its decision. Salaita has since filed a federal lawsuit against the school's Board of Trustees.

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