March 18, 2009
Micheal E. McKinnon
Board of Trustees
College of DuPage
425 Fawell Boulevard
Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137
Sent by U.S. Mail and Facsimile (630-858-2869)
Dear Mr. McKinnon:
As you can see from the list of our Directors and Board of Advisors, FIRE unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, due process, legal equality, freedom of association, religious liberty and, in this case, freedom of speech on America’s college campuses. Our website, www.thefire.org, will give you a greater sense of our identity and activities.
FIRE is very concerned about several threats to freedom of expression and association in the proposed changes to the Policy Manual for the Board of Trustees of the College of DuPage. We have read the March 16, 2009, letter to the Trustees from Walter J. Kendall, President of the Illinois Council of the American Association of University Professors, and if the facts of that letter are correct, we agree with many of that organization’s concerns.
As a public college, the College of DuPage is both legally and morally bound by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which protects the rights to freedom of speech and association and prohibits a public college from restricting the exercise of these rights by students and faculty members. The proposed changes, for instance, ban "demeaning" activity, give the president or his representative the power to deny requests for assemblage and outside speakers, and institute prior restraint on speech. Some of these policies are plainly unconstitutional, and others are likely to be employed unconstitutionally from their very first use.
The College of DuPage cannot lawfully enforce or approve any policies that violate constitutional rights. Thus, the Trustees must not approve the proposed Policy Manual in its current form.
FIRE hopes to resolve this situation amicably and swiftly; we are, however, prepared to use all of our resources to see this situation through to a just conclusion. We would be pleased to discuss these points further with you.
Director, Individual Rights Defense Program
College of DuPage Board of Trustees
Robert L. Breuder, President, College of DuPage
Nancy Stanko, President, College of DuPage Faculty Association