FIRE’s Research on DePaul University’s Shifting Flyer Posting Policy

In his December 12, 2005, letter, DePaul University President Dennis Holtschneider said the following, in pertinent part:

As for the brochure for which the College Republican organization sought permission to post around campus, DePaul University approves, as a matter of course, announcements of speakers who are coming to campus. We do not approve posters that denounce or criticize invited speakers. The same would be true in the reverse. If the College Republicans had invited a speaker who was objectionable to another group on campus, DePaul would have permitted posters advertising the event, but would not have permitted posters denouncing the College Republicans’ speaker. These posters are meant to inform the campus community of upcoming events. DePaul does not use this particular venue for the expression of political views of any stripe.

I personally would not have used the word “propaganda” to summarize this criteria, and the word is not part of any policy at DePaul. The practice, however, seems a sensible one to me and is enforced equally for speakers of all topics and positions. Advertisements of speakers are posted. Denunciations of speakers are not posted.

However, the flyer posting policy President Holtschneider outlines was not in effect at the time the DePaul College Republicans sought permission to post their flyers.  The PDF below dated June 30, 2004, is a printout of the Internet Archive’s record of DePaul’s Student Organizations Policies and Procedures webpage from June 30, 2004, the latest date available.  As of that date, the ban on “propaganda” that President Holtschneider erroneously claims does not exist was not yet in effect.  You may read more about the Internet Archive and view all of its records of this particular DePaul webpage.

The PDF below dated October 28, 2005, was created by FIRE on October 28, 2005 from the same DePaul webpage for Student Organizations Policies and Procedures and reflects the page as it was on October 28, 2005.  To the flyer posting policy has been added the provision “We do not approve propaganda.”  There is no mention of approving flyers only to advertise upcoming events.

The PDF below dated December 19, 2005, is a printout of the same DePaul webpage as of December 19, 2005, after FIRE received President Holtschneider’s letter.  The same rule now reads “We do not approve propaganda. Postings are intended to promote events either on or off campus.”

Schools: DePaul University Cases: DePaul University: Censorship of Student Group Protesting Ward Churchill