Goldman refutes claim against SIUC free speech policies

January 12, 2009

Southern Illinois University Carbondale Chancellor Samuel Goldman called allegations attacking the university’s free speech policies a "baseless claim."

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent a letter challenging SIUC’s policies and student handbook on the issue of free speech on campus. The letter states that the university’s use of designated free speech zones "chills expression" on campus. Goldman’s response indicates that these areas, located near Anthony Hall and Morris Library, exist for groups to use amplified noises.

"There is no prohibition on our campus that prevents anyone from handing out leaflets or pamphlets," Goldman wrote in a reply to FIRE. "We rightly expect demonstrators, wherever they may be on campus, not to leave an area littered with trash, debris or personal property."

On Monday, Goldman said he does not take issue with people challenging or criticizing the university. He does, however, expect people to research the issue first.

"This is a group that does not do their homework whatsoever," Goldman said. "It’s very embarrassing what they do, but they force us to respond."

In its initial challenge, FIRE did not cite any specific examples of violations of free speech, he said. Last week, Jonathan Bean, an SIUC history professor and president of the Illinois Association of Scholars, who co-signed FIRE’s challenge, said there was no specific event that led to the timing of the challenge. Rather, it’s part of a nationwide effort by FIRE, he said.

Goldman said he is preparing to make a second response to FIRE, this one regarding being placed on the organization’s "red light" list for its proposed sexual harassment policy.

Adam Kissel, director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, said the organization sent messages to all the schools on its "red light list" – schools FIRE claims have unconstitutional speech policies – in December. He said the sexual harassment policies posted on FIRE’s Web site are those that are currently in effect at the university.


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