SIUC officials say policies need time before judgments are passed

January 14, 2009

Southern Illinois University Carbondale officials are asking the national organization challenging its policies to allow time for ongoing revision efforts to be completed, a university spokesman said.

SIUC Chancellor Samuel Goldman will not respond to a press release issued Tuesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, university spokesman Rod Sievers said. Goldman and FIRE officials have recently exchanged words over the university’s free speech policy.

FIRE issued an initial letter on Dec. 22, asking for a reply from university leaders. Goldman responded to the letter by standing by existing university policy and calling FIRE’s claims "baseless." FIRE retaliated by issuing the press release, which alleged deceit on Goldman’s behalf by "quietly" changing the Registered Student Handbook’s demonstrations policy.

FIRE officials also raised concerns about unconstitutionality of other SIUC policies, including its sexual harassment policy. A working group formed last year to propose revisions to that policy recently presented its report to Goldman, Sievers said.

The chancellor’s office is awaiting reports from at least two other groups, as well as the public, before finalizing recommended changes that will be presented to the board of trustees in April, he added. The university is asking FIRE – and other concerned parties – reserve judgment of proposed modifications until the chancellor issues his final report.

"The university knows (the sexual harassment policy) has to be revised; that’s why we’re going through the process," Sievers said.

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Schools: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Cases: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale: Free Speech Crisis Over Unconstitutional Policies