Southern Illinois University Carbondale has modified its student handbook policy on protests amid a controversial challenge on its free speech policies, but a university spokesman said deceit was never the intention.
In the latest exchange of communication between SIUC Chancellor Samuel Goldman and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, officials with FIRE accuse Goldman of "quietly" changing the handbook while publicly attacking the organization.
"SIUC railed against FIRE in public while failing to mention that it changed one of its absurdly unconstitutional policies in the face of our criticism," FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said in a news release.
The registered student handbook had been at the center of controversy because of its designation of two free speech zones on campus. University officials contended these locations were available for demonstrators wishing to use amplified noise, but that the entire campus is a free speech zone.
On Tuesday, FIRE officials drew attention to a revised handbook updated in January 2009. This edition of the guide removes much of the "Protest Policy" listed in the July 2007 edition and directs readers to the university’s "Demonstrations: Regulations and Procedures" policy.
University spokesman Rod Sievers said the registered student handbook had been in error, and the document on "Demonstrations: Regulations and Procedures" had always been intended as the official university policy.
"What was in the (Registered Student Organization) handbook was flat-out wrong and it has been corrected," he said. "Our policy is our policy. There is only one policy."
In addition to challenging the university’s free speech policy, FIRE has also raised issues about the university’s other policies including proposed changes to its sexual harassment policy and others.