Southern Illinois University at Carbondale’s administrators can’t make up their minds. One day Chancellor Samuel Goldman is blasting FIRE in the media, calling us an "embarrassing" organization making "baseless" claims regarding SIUC’s free speech policies. The next, university spokesman Rod Sievers is claiming that the policy in the student handbook had been in error and that FIRE’s letter to the school pointing out that the speech code was unconstitutional had nothing to do with the fact that the policy was changed just days after the letter was received. And finally, yesterday—the icing on the cake—Sievers asked that FIRE allow time for the complete revisions to the policies and "reserve judgment of proposed modifications until the chancellor issues his final report."
Well, maybe Chancellor Goldman should have taken Sievers’ advice and reserved his own judgments of FIRE before claiming that we "don’t do [our] homework." As Sam wrote in a blog on Tuesday, FIRE is not concerned about just one policy at SIUC—we’re concerned about a whole slew of them, which is why SIUC receives a "Red Light" rating on Spotlight: The Campus Freedom Resource. Instead of immediately becoming defensive, Chancellor Goldman should have realized that FIRE’s letters were intended to start a dialogue between the school and FIRE—in order to help revise policies that currently stifle students’ and faculty members’ rights—not to attack the school with "baseless claims."
But Goldman still hasn’t stopped his tirade against FIRE. As you will read in an upcoming Torch entry, yesterday the Chancellor went on the local public broadcasting radio station in Carbondale to discuss free speech at SIUC and managed to once again insult FIRE and the work we do. Stay tuned for that and more.