Monday, January 23, 2006

There they go again: DePaul U clamps down on conservative free speech rights

Earlier this month, Chicago's DePaul University, pressured by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), agreed to drop its bizarre "propaganda ban" that the administration used as an attempt to silence DePaul College Republicans last fall. Controversial University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill, in a paid appearance, spoke at DePaul, and the College Republicans faced several school administration roadblocks as they tried to protest that event.

FIRE's interim president, Greg Lukianoff, stated earlier this month on the Hannity & Colmes show that in terms of free speech issues, DePaul was "a basketcase."

Still, with its dropping of the "propaganda ban," it looked like DePaul might finally be turning a new leaf.

Not so.

The latest edition of the DePaul campus newspaper, The DePaulia, just came online. It reports on the "affirmative action bake sale" organized by the DePaul Conservative Alliance.

A few other campus conservative groups have had similar "sales," organized as a humorous protest to college affirmative action policies. The DePaul sale listed prices for brownies and cookies, with white males paying the most for each treat, minorities paying less.

The DePaul Conservative Alliance bake sale lasted about 45 minutes. According to the DePaulia article, students in support of affirmative action started yelling at the DCA members and in the words of Michael O'Shea, a member of the conservative group, "It got a little more out of hand than I would have liked." Tempers were raised, words were exchanged, but that was about it. Greg MacVarish, Dean of Students for DePaul's Division of Student of Affairs, closed shop on the DCA bake sale once the argument broke out.

But that wasn't enough for DePaul. Denise Mattson of the DePaul public affairs department, had this to say:

DePaul permits student organizations to share political views. The expression of those views must take place in a civil, tolerant and respectful manner. Mattson added that although DePaul accepts the opinions and views of all its students, the area DCA chose to conduct its rally was inappropriate. The main hallway in the Student Center is not the proper area for the debate. We need to make sure that there is an environment for that speech that is safe for everyone.

According to the DePaulia, the conservatives were the civil ones, the pro-affirmative action students started the argument. As far where the bake sale took place, unless the DCA was blocking a fire exit, the location of the DePaul Conservative Alliance exercising their free speech rights doesn't really matter in the context of free speech. I would guess the DCA needed a permit for the sale; since their lack of a permit wasn't brought up by the DePaulia, they must have had one.

In addition to his "basketcase" comment about DePaul, during his Hannity & Colmes appearance, Luckianoff of FIRE said in regards to free speech concerns, DePaul "has a nasty history" in that area.

Luckianoff can only have been talking about the Thomas Klocek case. The pro-Israel professor was fired by DePaul University after defending the Jewish state in front of some Muslim students there.

Here's what Klocek view of that incident:

This had nothing to do with religion. It had nothing to do with ethnicity. My side is that it has everything to do with free speech.

This is what DePaul's Mattson had to say about the Klocek affair:

We emphatically reject that this is at all a matter of academic freedom. For DePaul, it was about his conduct, not his content.

There is a disturbing pattern of misbehavior by DePaul in regards to free speech.

Oh, my parting shot will be fired at The DePaulia. Here is the sub-headline of its article about the bake sale:

DePaul Conservative Alliance stirs up the student body with a questionable approach on affirmative action

Headlines, or sub-heads like that belong in the op-ed section of the DePaulia.

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