Individual Rights Languishing in Indiana
April 16, 2008
by Adam Kissel
The April 15 issue of the IUSB Vision Weblog features a very good interview with Indiana University – South Bend's former Chief Justice, Chuck Norton, who has been a close ally of FIRE in the case of Robert Francis, a reporter on a campus production of The Vagina Monologues. He was saved from punishment on appeal after FIRE intervened, but IUSB has refused to remove the information about the disciplinary proceedings and appeals from his student file. Norton tells about the retaliation that the school's SGA President faced after contributing to Francis's defense (note: this interview did not include documentation):
On the down side IUSB refuses to investigate itself on the abuses of the system committed by Pfeifer, Smits and others who abused this student. IUSB has refused to clear this student's record of this nonsense. IUSB sent out letters to other members of the administration and some school deans stating that this student is guilty of sexual misconduct, to the best of my knowledge new letters have not been sent out clearing his name. Professors are stating that they have been "warned" about this student, most likely as a result of those letters.
The university retaliated against SGA President Blount. He was fired from his job in student services and he has children to feed. He was told that it was due to "budget cuts", however an examination of those budgets by those who are in the know say otherwise. Others who are in a position to know have stated that Blount's status as a student was threatened. They also say that the administration has threatened to remove funding from the SGA. I know that Blount was so frightened that he was pressured to lie about some of the facts about the investigation in an attempt to undermine it and assault the credibility of this student, former President Vigil and myself. Blount is a good man at heart and came clean when confronted on this. FIRE has made it clear that it stands ready to take action on Blount's behalf should he so wish it.
I have been also made aware that some in the administration sought to take some action against me but decided otherwise because I have the means, resources and will to fight back and win. If they had retaliated I am confident that the depositions and discovery process would prove to be quite amusing.
Norton discusses more about this case as well as the troubling case at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) of Keith John Sampson, who originally was found guilty of racial harassment for reading a book about a street fight between University of Notre Dame students and members of the Ku Klux Klan. Norton adds:
For this much and more about FIRE and about the state of individual rights at IUSB, read the whole interview.
The simple truth is that most universities could care less about a freedom of speech and conscience. They all pay lip service to it, but a simple examination of FIRE's web site in the complaints section shows that this problem is rampant across universities nationwide and what happened at IUPUI is merely one of the latest examples.