Chicago State: The Worst Speech Code, Ever

UPDATE: Yesterday, Chicago State reversed course and eliminated this policy.

On March 22, Chicago State University’s Office of Marketing & Communication announced a new Communications and Media Relations Policy that may be the most repressive speech code ever enacted at a university. Taken literally, it appears to ban all faculty communications, anywhere. AAUP president Cary Nelson told the Chicago Tribune, “this policy is an obscenity and absurdity and is not tolerable.”

Here are a few excerpts from the policy, posted in full by the CSU Faculty Voice Blog (which is presumably now banned):

Communications and Media Relations Policy
…a communications review and approval process is being implemented to ensure all levels of outreach, both internal and external, underscore CSU’s mission, goals, policies and standards. It is imperative all communications be strategically deployed in a manner that safeguards the reputation, work product and ultimately, the students, of CSU.

This policy applies to the following types of communications events, though they are not limited to these specified instances: media interviews, crisis communications, acquisitions, external newsletters, social media, conference/seminar/roundtable/speaking opportunities/white papers/opinion pieces….

Communications meeting ALL of the following criteria must have approval from the Office of Enrollment Management, Division of Public Relations and Communications….

1.3 All disclosures to the media will be communicated by an authorized CSU media relations officer or designate…

1.5 With regard to external communications, this policy applies to all the CSU employees and, with respect to their reference to CSU, all schools and programs….

1.8 As with all CSU policies, any noncompliance will be treated as serious and will result in disciplinary action, possible termination and could give rise to civil and/or criminal liability on the part of the employee. It is the responsibility of all employees to familiarize themselves with this policy….

The thought that faculty could be threatened with termination, lawsuits, and criminal liability for daring to give a conference paper without authorization is so remarkable that one must question not just the competence but also the sanity of anyone who wrote or approved this policy.

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