More waffles than a house of pancakes

Remember my post about NU’s strange ban on candidate promotion at the Rock, arguably the most popular spot on campus for activism? University counsel has apparently “reinterpreted its policy” (but no, the policy has NOT changed!). Until Feb. 5, we can promote our candidates to our hearts’ content:

ASG Clerk James D’Angelo updated the Senate on his work with the general counsel, which agreed to allow all ASG-recognized groups to reserve The Rock and rally for political candidates, an issue he has been working on since Fall Quarter. The Communication junior will continue to work with the general counsel to update NU’s political activity policy, which currently prohibits the use of university resources to promote political candidates because of NU’s tax-exempt status.

“They agree the policy was pretty poorly written,” D’Angelo said.

But the general counsel has not changed its current policy. Instead it is changing its interpretation of the policy to not include The Rock as part of “university resources,” so student groups can rally before the Feb. 5 Illinois presidential primary, D’Angelo said.

Nice move, NU. How about you extend your commitment to free expression beyond the next, uh, 120 hours?

In other news, I’m hearing rumors from staff in the Office of Student Affairs that the student handbook will be completely rewritten before the next academic year. Could this mean improvement is on the way? Will Prof. Jon Gould and LB be invited to give input to ensure the new rules aren’t unconstitutional? I wouldn’t bet on it.

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4 Responses to More waffles than a house of pancakes

  1. laurabethnielsen says:

    A rock is a resource? I MUST be missing something. Because that is a little wacky.

    I am reminded of the pet rocks of my youth. Oh how I miss Rock-y (I capitalized on the pet rock thing AND my love of Sly by cleverly naming mine Rocky). But I digress . . .

    I just don’t understand why the University would not want political activism — seriously, isn’t that the kind of citizen/scholar the University wants to produce? And yes, University resources shouldn’t be involved (for many reasons) but if students want to campaign on campus, why not?

  2. geoff2o0o says:

    I suspect the hubbub over speech restrictions at the rock has less to do with the venue for speech, i.e. the common area in between University, Kresge and Harris Halls, and more to do with the manner in which speech is communicated at the rock, i.e. words that are spray-painted on the rock and surrounding university property.

    It seems like NU has no problem with students expressing their unpopular or controversial political beliefs in general; only when such speech is expressed through (and sometimes written on) the rock does it become proscribable. This distinction, in my eyes, stems from NU’s vested interest in appearing nonpartisan to casual observers like parents and their children taking tours of the campus. Putting yourself in the shoes of such parents, would you automatically understand that the phrase “Ron Paul for President!” written on and around the rock was student-generated speech?

    Even though students have claimed the rock as their own and all those in the NU community understand as much, the NU administration has legitimate concerns over the appearance of political impartiality when it comes to expression that is communicated using university property.

  3. dspett says:

    As I understand it, the issue is leafleting and rallying at the Rock, not painting the Rock… though I could be mistaken. The original article said students were allowed to rally elsewhere on campus, just not at the Rock and Arch, but this article implies they cannot rally anywhere in support of a candidate.

  4. lbsmom says:

    In Moraga, California, where LB grew up, a group of rocks high on a hill prominent at a busy intersection are painted by high school students regularly, and the police seem to just look the other way. No protests there, however, except in writing. The hill is very steep. Most messages relate to sporting victories, in memory of someone, or the current graduating class. We need a place for our messages, & in the fall, mine will be a Democratic political sign in my front yard in this fairly conservative small town. Believe me, that will garner comments!

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