University of Illinois Rally Supports Right to Campus Politicking - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

University of Illinois Rally Supports Right to Campus Politicking


by Associated Press


Claiming their rights to support political candidates are under assault, some University of Illinois faculty and students held a rally for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on campus to make their stand clear.

The rally Thursday was staged after an official school statement informing the community that a state ethics law bars state workers from political activities on university property.

“They’re trying to control our bodies and our voices any time we’re on campus,” said graduate student Dan Colson. “These policies are clearly a violation of our First Amendment rights.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois sent a letter Thursday to university president B. Joseph White, asking him to clarify the statement. The ACLU’s letter called for White to inform staff, students workers and graduate students that they can attend campaign rallies, wear political buttons and put partisan bumper stickers on their cars.

“Surely the university does not feel a need to stifle political expression that does not disrupt the workplace or the classroom,” said ACLU of Illinois Legal Director Harvey Grossman in a statement.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office said that state ethics law governs that state employees cannot do political work on state time using state resources but that law does not apply to students.

But Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s Office of Executive Inspector General said students, not just employees, are barred from taking part in political rallies on campus.

“Anything that benefits a political campaign is prohibited on state property,” said Gilbert Jimenez, deputy inspector general. Jimenez said the office may investigate complaints of political activity on campuses depending on severity.

  New University of Hawaii Chancellor Says School's a Tarnished Jewel

University of Illinois spokesman Tom Hardy said school officials never intended to enforce the state ethics law. The university’s statement two weeks ago was part of an ongoing effort to communicate the law to its employees, he said.

“The purpose was to say, ‘Keep these provisions in mind, exercise common sense, and everything will be fine,’” Hardy said.

The Illinois situation is part of a “disturbing trend” likely to increase as the election nears, said Will Creeley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

The Philadelphia-based group tracks academic freedom and free speech complaints on U.S. campuses. It recently sent a letter of protest after the University of Oklahoma sent an e-mail to students, faculty and staff directing them not to use university e-mail to endorse or oppose a candidate. The Oklahoma school also barred using e-mail to forward political humor and commentary.

The group has received complaints about bans on campaign activities at Iowa Western Community College and Fresno Pacific University in California, Creeley said.

Email the editor:

Click here to post and read comments

© Copyright 2005 by

University of Florida President: Security Cost for Spencer Speech ‘Unfair’ GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A day before white nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak at the University of Florida, its president affirmed his belief in free speech but said the security costs of holding such an event at a public university put an...
New President Aims to Continue Morehouse Mission of Molding Leaders The Board of Trustees at Morehouse College concluded a six-month search when it voted on Sunday to appoint a Harvard University professor as its new president. Dr. David A. Thomas The historically Black men’s college in Atlanta announced on Mo...
University of Cincinnati to Allow White Nationalist to Speak CLEVELAND — The University of Cincinnati says it will allow White nationalist leader Richard Spencer to speak on campus, while Ohio State University says it can't accommodate a rental request for a Nov. 15 speech but is considering alternatives. U...
University of Washington Feels Like ‘Home’ for President Cauce During her time as president of the University of Washington, Dr. Ana Mari Cauce has been vocal about her passion for equity and inclusion. As a Cuban emigrant, she understands what she represents for those who imagine a more diverse future for highe...
Semantic Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *