DePaul University—historically no friend to free speech—now keeps its policies password-protected, leaving prospective students and their families in the dark about the types of restrictions on speech they will face as DePaul students.
When we last updated DePaul’s entry on Spotlight, we rated the university a "red light" for maintaining several policies that seriously infringed on students’ free speech rights, despite the university’s explicit promises, in the wake of several free-speech controversies there, to protect those rights. At last look, DePaul prohibited "language" that "demeans another person because of his/her gender," as well as "any behavior (verbal, written or physical)" that "demeans, victimizes or has the effect of creating a hostile environment for any person based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, religion, marital status, disability or any other basis protected by federal, state or local law." These overbroad regulations threaten a lot of core political speech and undoubtedly have a serious chilling effect on free exchange at DePaul.
Today, the general public (including prospective students and their parents) can no longer access these policies, because access to DePaul’s Policy Directory now requires a DePaul User ID and password. Unlike earlier versions, the 2008–2009 Student Handbook contains only brief summaries of these policies, referring readers to the password-protected site for more information.
This is shameful. Students considering attending DePaul—and parents considering paying the nearly $40,000 per year it costs to send their children there—deserve to know what kinds of restrictions on their basic rights they will face on campus. If it has any integrity, the university will restore public access to these policies immediately.