Friday, October 17, 2008

St. Kate's Bans Political Speech II 

In the comments to King's post below, Julie Michener tries to defend St. Kate's by saying
Because we are a 501(c)(3) organization, the College of St. Catherine has sought to avoid any appearance of partisanship during the 2008 political season.
Michener goes on to quote at length from a policy regarding political candidates and political debates. But Bay Buchanan is neither a candidate nor engaged in a campaign or debate for any candidate.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is one of the great organizations supporting free speech and academic freedom on campuses. Here is what FIRE had to say today about this topic, both on their website and at the Huffington Post:
True, both public and private universities do have legal duties related to their status as government instrumentalities (public schools) or 501(c)(3) non-profits (private schools) which prevents them from institutionally endorsing candidates (or even appearing to do so), lobbying for legislation or raising money for candidates. Therefore, university bans on administrators using university letterhead to endorse or shill for candidates, for example, are reasonable and required by law. But universities go off the deep end when they translate this common-sense duty into somehow meaning that no one is allowed to engage in partisan political speech on campus.
Read the whole thing. St. Kate's has gone off the deep end on this one.

Disclosure: King and I both sit on the Board of the Minnesota Association of Scholars.

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