The university's administration has sparked outrage by telling faculty, staff and graduate students that a 5-year-old state law designed to prevent state workers from campaigning for candidates on state time or with state resources meant they could not express support for candidates or parties through pins, T-shirts or bumper stickers while on campus. Nor could they attend any political rally or event on campus, the administration said.Informing people of the law when you have no intention of enforcing it? In other words, you want to scare people into shutting up. You intend to chill free speech.
"They're trying to control our bodies and our voices any time we're on campus. These policies are clearly a violation of our 1st Amendment rights," said Dan Colson, an English graduate student who, along with other students, professors and free-speech experts, has lashed out....
Tom Hardy, a University of Illinois spokesman, said Thursday that the university only wanted to inform its employees of the law and had no intention of enforcing it.
The university, he said, would take no action against participants in the pro-Obama rally.How about taking the action of rewriting the guidelines to express an interpretation of the law that you are willing to stand by?
"The purpose was to say, 'Keep these provisions in mind, exercise common sense, and everything will be fine,' " Hardy said of an e-mail sent to all employees and graduate students.Talk about vague! The rule "exercise common sense" is itself not common sense. "Everything will be fine" is not at all reassuring.
"Academic freedom allows us to reveal our political views if we want," [English professor Cary] Nelson said.