Northeastern Illinois University Withdraws Proposed ‘Free Speech Zone’ Policy
January 9, 2009
A controversial and repressive "free speech zone" policy at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) has been withdrawn by NEIU President Sharon K. Hahs, who had first proposed the unconstitutional measure in November. In an e-mail sent on Tuesday, Hahs directed that consideration of the policy be halted:
I am writing to request that the A and P [Administration and Personnel] Council and the Faculty Senate suspend their consideration of endorsement for the policy entitled "Policy Concerning Demonstrations on Campus, Distribution and Display of Visual Communications and Solicitation of Signatures on Campus," conveyed to you on November 10, 2008. I also thank the SGA and the Civil Service Council for their prompt endorsements. However, effective immediately, I am withdrawing this document from further consideration. Thank you.
As we have noted twice previously on The Torch, Hahs' proposed policy was blatantly unconstitutional, demanding—among other things—a minimum of one week's notice for NEIU community members wishing to hold events and demonstrations on the Chicago school's campus, as well as prior approval over all materials to be displayed and distributed at such events. FIRE has followed the situation closely, and has been in touch with members of the NEIU faculty and Student Government Association since an article in the Chicago Reader first revealed the alarming implications of the proposed policy. FIRE is glad to see that Hahs has come to her senses, for now.
Make no mistake, however: that Hahs ever thought such a proposal could pass muster has put FIRE on alert. We hope that the NEIU community will not have to suffer under such a repressive and unconstitutional code in the future, so we will continue to monitor the state of free speech at NEIU and will be ready if Hahs proposes something new.