Northeastern Illinois University: Suppression of Affirmative Action Bake Sale

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Northeastern Illinois University

At Northeastern Illinois University, administrators had warned the members of the College Republicans that both the students and the group would be punished if they held a campus protest against affirmative action. NEIU Dean of Students Michael Kelly e-mailed the student organization informing them that the protest would violate the school’s nondiscrimination policy. Dean Kelly wrote that “[v]iolating University rules can and will result in charges being filed,” and that “any disruption of university activities that would be caused by this event is also actionable….” FIRE wrote the school, demanding the group be allowed to stage their protest as it is within their First Amendment rights to do so. The university soon relented, and the College Republicans were allowed to hold the bake sale with “no preconditions.”

  • The Chill Is Nothing New

    September 9, 2005

    There is a chill on campus, but that’s nothing new. For decades, campus speech has been chilled by speech codes and other attempts to prevent expression that might offend. Some would like to imagine that the excesses of “political correctness” are ancient history, but repression in the name of tolerance hasn’t gone anywhere. Oppressive speech codes are not only still around—they have actually multiplied, even after numerous court decisions declared them unconstitutional. Within the past year, college students have been punished for such things as expressing a religious objection to homosexuality and arguing that corporal punishment may be acceptable. Students […]

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  • 10 great cigars and why I smoked them

    June 13, 2005

    By Mike Adams at For years, communism has been preventing me from enjoying a lot of good cigars. That used to bother me, until I found a way around the problem. As many of my readers know, there are more communists teaching on the average American campus than there are teaching in all of Cuba. And, of course, these communist professors do a lot of stupid things, most of which violate the United States Constitution. I have learned that fighting American communist professors is fun, largely because they are so easy to beat when challenged. That’s why I smoke […]

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  • Baking With Fire

    April 18, 2005

    The enemies of campus bake sales are at it again, inflaming one another over the dire threat of cupcakes and cookies sold at different prices to whites, minorities, and women. The sales are political parody, of course, poking fun at affirmative action policies and trying to get a debate going. Campus orthodoxy holds that such policies are sacred and that any dissent, even in the form of satirical cookie prices, is illegitimate and deserving of suppression. When members of a Republican club staged a bake sale March 21 at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., several students said they […]

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  • Bake Sale Battles Continue: FIRE Gains Victory at NEIU, Turns Sights on Grand Valley State University

    April 8, 2005

    CHICAGO, April 8, 2005—In a victory for free speech on campus, Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) has decided to allow the College Republicans to hold an affirmative action bake sale protest on campus with “no preconditions.”  The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) received written confirmation of the change on Wednesday afternoon, less than 36 hours after publicizing NEIU’s unconstitutional threat to punish the College Republicans if they held the protest.  At the same time that NEIU changed course, however, FIRE learned that Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Michigan was proceeding with plans to try the GVSU College Republicans […]

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  • E-mail from NEIU Dean of Students Michael Kelly to Brian Geier, April 6, 2005

    April 6, 2005

    From: Michael Kelly [] Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2005 3:05 PM To: ‘brian geier’ Subject: Bake Sale Dear Brian, I am confident that FIRE knows that NEIU proposed alternative methods for the College Republicans to communicate its message.  John Tait and I met again yesterday about a couple of matters, one of which was what I was able to learn further on bake sales as political commentaries.  He is aware that the club can hold its bake sale without pre-conditions.  We likewise discussed the value of informing potential customers of the primary intent of the activity so that they can […]

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  • Northeastern Illinois University Bans Affirmative Action Bake Sale, Threatens Protestors with Punishment

    April 5, 2005

    CHICAGO, April 5, 2005—Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) has warned the members of the College Republicans that both the students and the group will be punished if they hold a campus protest against affirmative action.  The NEIU College Republicans canceled its planned “affirmative action bake sale” protest after NEIU’s dean of students warned them in an e-mail that to hold such a sale would violate NEIU’s “nondiscrimination” policy and expose the students to punishment.  NEIU, which allowed a feminist group to hold a similar “pay equity bake sale” protest on campus, is the latest in a string of schools nationwide that […]

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  • FIRE Letter to NEIU Legal Adviser Mark Dunn, March 25, 2005

    March 25, 2005

    March 25, 2005 Mr. Mark T. Dunn Dunn, Stanczak, Willard, Arkell & Bugg 1001 North Main Street, Suite A P.O. Box 3488 Bloomington, Illinois 61702-3488 URGENT Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (309-828-8321) Dear Mr. Dunn: Thank you for your timely response to our letter to Northeastern Illinois University President Steinberg.  We appreciate the NEIU administration’s willingness to engage FIRE on this topic.  However, FIRE’s stance remains unchanged: NEIU must allow the NEIU College Republicans to hold an “affirmative action bake sale” protest without interference from the administration, and must not permit any potential counter-protesters to exercise a “heckler’s veto” […]

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  • FIRE Letter to NEIU President Salme Steinberg, March 8, 2005

    March 8, 2005

    March 8, 2005 President Salme Steinberg Northeastern Illinois University 5500 N. St. Louis Avenue B-159 Chicago, Illinois 60625 URGENT Sent by U.S. Mail and Facsimile (773-442-5070) Dear President Steinberg: As you can see from our Directors and Board of Advisors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) unites leaders in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, legal equality, freedom of religion, academic freedom, due process, and, in this case, freedom of speech and expression on America’s college campuses.  Our website,, will […]

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  • E-mail from NEIU Dean of Students Michael Kelly to John Tait, February 18, 2005

    February 18, 2005

    From: Michael Kelly [] Sent: Friday, February 18, 2005 2:35 PM To: John Tait Subject: Republican Club Bake Sale Dear Mr. Tait, As I was unable to reach you by telephone, the nature of my call is as follows: My office has been informed that the College Republicans are planning a Bake Sale in Village Square on Friday, February 25th where lower prices for baked goods will be charged to non-white, non-male purchasers as a commentary about Affirmative Action Laws.  Please be aware that, even if you plan to charge less to minority and female customers (as it was described to […]

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