“Diversity” versus Freedom: The Tragic Case of Southern Illinois University

In the early 1990s, I entered academia when the “diversity machine” was cranking up. Today, it is completely out of control: religious freedom, racial freedom, free speech and a free press are all at risk. The courts struck down the “speech codes” but they reemerged under the cover of “sexual harassment policy.” My own institution, Southern Illinois University (SIU), has been hit with two major lawsuits, after years of ignoring pleas by high-level university committees, the faculty union, the ACLU, FIRE, and the National Association of Scholars to reform the code. (Disclosure: I am an officer of the NAS and a member of the faculty union).

Here is a link on just one of the cases. The relevant paragraph (and it is so typical):

No hearing, no chance to respond to the evidence, no statement of evidence, no chance to respond to the accuser, no notification of a right to appeal. Nothing. Just two letters with unspecified allegations.

For other recent cases, go here.

In response, I have set up a group blog, FreeSIU.

Feel free to peruse and offer stories from other institutions that relate to this issue. In the forthcoming months, a half dozen bloggers will address a range of “freedom issues” on campus. If SIU sounds like your campus or alma mater, let us know!

Any one threatened or concerned about freedom in higher education ought realize what is going on. FIRE and NAS are good places to start, along with the readings suggested by David Theroux here.

Jonathan Bean is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor of History at Southern Illinois University, and editor of the Independent book, Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader.
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