Boren changes political expression e-mail policy

By on October 28, 2008

OU President David L. Boren sent a campus-wide e-mail Monday revoking an OU policy over political expression on the OU e-mail system.

Boren’s decision to clarify the university’s position came after several OU students and a national individual rights group expressed concern with a Sept. 12 e-mail from Nick Hathaway, vice president for executive and administrative affairs.

In the clarification e-mail sent Monday, Boren said he admired those who questioned the original e-mail and thought a clarification to the OU community was appropriate.

"I applaud those who asked the questions about this policy which was worded to make it appear overly restrictive," Boren said in the e-mail. "I am encouraged by the vigilance of members of the OU family in defense of free expression."

In the Sept. 12 e-mail, Hathaway wrote that the university’s e-mail systems "may not be used to endorse or oppose a candidate, including the forwarding of political humor/commentary."

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education or FIRE, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, informed Boren that the wording of the original e-mail sent by Hathaway seemed to violate basic rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

OU alumnus Jason Fager also e-mailed university officials to say they may face a lawsuit if they did not clarify OU’s position on political speech.

Both FIRE and Fager said they were satisfied with the policy clarification they received privately from OU but said they thought the university had a responsibility to inform faculty and students.

In the e-mail sent Monday, Boren said he admired those who questioned the original e-mail and thought a clarification to the university community was appropriate.

"I applaud those who asked the questions about this policy which was worded to make it appear overly restrictive," Boren said in the e-mail. "I am encouraged by the vigilance of members of the OU family in defense of free expression."

 

Schools: University of Oklahoma