NIU’s Ally Lehman has had an eventful week. On Friday she met U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth after being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry; on Saturday she was recognized by President Doug Baker during graduation; and today she was featured in a Chicago Sun-Times column written by NIU alumnus Mark Brown.
Brown’s column, NIU ‘Hoosier’ trades basketball uniform for combat fatigues, noted Lehman’s many accomplishments.
She was one of just 10 women selected nationally from the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) for the infantry this year. Such combat jobs were made available to females for the first time last year.
Lehman also starred on the NIU women’s basketball team while earning her degree in general studies, making her a student-athlete-soldier—“a rare triple-double for any campus,” Brown said.
“Part of what interested me about Lehman’s story was having had an NIU roommate myself many years ago who was in ROTC, and seeing the type of commitment required to perform at a high level in both the classroom and the military,” Brown said in his column. “The idea of adding a major college sport on top of that is mind-boggling . . .”
One of our most cherished rights as Americans is our freedom of speech.
Millions of brave men and women have fought and died for our right to speak, write and otherwise express our opinions without fear of censorship or punishment. The freedom of expression policy recently enacted here at Northern Illinois University reaffirms and celebrates our commitment to that principle. After all, meaningful dialogue and a respectful exchange of ideas and opinions are the bedrock on which every public university is built.
It is an awesome right, but with it comes great responsibility. As such, I urge everyone to closely review the policy.
In summary, it makes clear that the entirety of public space on our campus (outdoor areas), plus the Board of Trustees room in Altgeld Hall, are free speech zones where students, faculty, staff and visitors are free to express their views. It also reaffirms that the university will not interfere with the expression of opinions based upon the content of the message being conveyed. We realize that this means individuals might express points and counterpoints that run contrary to our own values of civility, collegiality, diversity and inclusiveness. However, the First Amendment protects virtually all speech, no matter how unorthodox, offensive or distasteful.
As a result, we may occasionally be pushed outside of our comfort zones and forced to confront views and ideas with which we disagree. However, that is a small price to pay to preserve an environment in which differences can be explored, ideas challenged and society advanced. Encouraging and supporting the free exchange of all ideas on campus enhances the education of our students. It provides opportunities to practice forming coherent arguments and to hone communication skills. It also compels individuals to listen to, examine and respond to a diversity of opinions. Ultimately, it better equips our students to succeed after graduation and makes all of us better informed citizens ready to engage in the improvement of society.
This new policy does not mean that public speech on campus can be exercised recklessly. For instance, freedom of speech does not guarantee a right to be obscene, pick fights, incite violence or defame others. The law of the land also allows for prohibitions against damaging property or endangering the public. Those same rules apply on campus.
Similarly, it is important to note that this new policy does not change the rules regarding classroom decorum. As has always been the case, faculty retain the right to shape the discourse that takes place within their classrooms.
The complete policy, and an outline of related procedures, as well as answers to common questions can be found on the website of NIU’s office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development.
At its heart, this policy speaks to our core values. By creating an environment where freedom of speech is not only respected but encouraged, I firmly believe we help our students become better members of society and prepare them for success in life.
A new Freedom of Expression policy reaffirms Northern Illinois University’s commitment to free speech throughout campus.
“We believe in the ideal that inquiry and open debate are an essential part of discourse at any university and wanted to make that crystal clear,” said NIU President Doug Baker, who asked university administration to review and rework the policy that had been in place for three decades.
The existing policy was created with the intention of encouraging free speech. However, concern arouse that it may be having the opposite effect, said NIU Vice President and General Counsel Jerry Blakemore. “It encouraged people to utilize designated free speech areas near the Holmes Student Center – and later the Convocation Center. Over time the perception developed that those were the only places where freedom of expression was allowed.”
The new policy erases that misperception, stating the university’s support for constitutionally supported speech in all outdoor areas of the campus. It also provides that the Board of Trustees room in Altgeld Hall (when not booked for other purposes) can be reserved for free speech activities. The policy applies to students, faculty and visitors to campus.
Implicit in the policy is that the university will not ban or interfere with any gathering or demonstration based upon the content of the message that organizers wish to share.
“By its very nature, free speech means that at times we may be confronted by ideas that we disagree with, or which we find uncomfortable. That does not mean that we have the right to squelch those messages,” said Blakemore. “But this policy does not extend any protections not already granted by the Constitution.”
For instance, he said, the policy prohibits things such as hate speech, genuine threats, harassment or defamation of specific individuals. It also stipulates that demonstrations cannot disrupt normal university business or damage university property.
While there is no requirement for individuals or groups to pre-register demonstrations, they are encouraged to do so at least five days in advance through Student Involvement and Leadership Development. Doing so is not a matter of securing permission, but rather allows the university to ensure that there are no conflicting events and address needs for security (if needed) or other details. There are no penalties or restrictions for those who do not pre-register, as long as the event does not veer into hate speech or other unprotected activities.
One thing that the policy does not change is the state of discussion in classrooms. “As always, faculty retain the right to shape the discourse that takes place in the classroom and to ensure that their teaching is not disrupted by inappropriate activities,” Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman said.
“NIU values all individuals and their rights,” said Baker. “This policy strives to make it clear that we encourage meaningful dialogue and a respectful exchange of ideas and opinions so that the voices of all of our students, faculty, staff and visitors can be acknowledged.”
A teacher, scholar, and leader who strives to create a wholesome learning environment for students and faculty. Thank you for all your service to the College of Education, Dr. Elish-Piper.
Rosanna has been the best adviser I have ever had. She has a wonderful attitude towards everything and is incredibly caring. Rosanna helped me so much in such a short period of time, and I’m so grateful for it. She really made a difference.
The P-20 Staff did an amazing job once again with STEMfest. Congratulations on another well organized, fun event that brings thousands of people to campus!
Portions of the City of DeKalb are under an elevated flooding risk due to heavy rains, officials said Tuesday.
Interim Public Works Director John Laskowski said that residents should be aware of the potential for flash flooding within city limits and beyond.
The City of DeKalb Police Department non-emergency dispatch number is (815) 748-8400 and should be called for after-hours non-emergency inquiries. Dial 911 in the case of any emergency.
Laskowski said sandbags are available at the City of DeKalb Water Department, 1216 Market St.