Monday, September 29, 2008

NCA on the U of I

It's always a pleasure to begin the week on a positive note. Case in point: I learned today that the National Communication Association (NCA), the United States' largest professional organization representing communication researchers and teachers, issued the following statement condemning the University of Illinois' policy against campaign speech.

I'm very proud of and impressed by NCA for taking this stand. As a professional organization, it's rarely a trend-setter in the vein of, say, the Modern Language Association.

Here is a link to the statement on the NCA website, which contains additional links to the organization's stance on free expression, as well as to information about the U of I controversy. I've also appended the statement below for those of you who are more scroll-inclined.

For now, well done, NCA. Well done.

NCA Statement Regarding Campus Speech Codes

The National Communication Association believes that freedom of speech and assembly must hold a central position among American’s Constitutional principles, and we express our determined support for the right of peaceful expression.

As such, NCA opposes the University of Illinois’s decision to ban staff members from vocalizing their political affiliation or support for particular political candidates. By not allowing faculty and staff to display buttons, pins, or bumper stickers or attend political rallies of any kind, the University of Illinois is sending the message that faculty should not engage in discussions of a political and/or controversial nature. Not only does this suggestion limit their right to free expression, it seeks to suppress their ability to think and act critically in response to significant contemporary concerns. College campuses are places for faculty and staff to actively express their views and opinions on a variety of topics, including politics.

There is a risk to a free society when responsible advocacy is treated as a danger to be suppressed. Much good and little harm can ensue if we err on the side of freedom, whereas much harm and little good may follow if we err on the side of suppression.

By restricting individual forms of political expression, the University of Illinois system is depriving its faculty of an open and honest academic environment, one wherein learning occurs both inside and outside of the classroom.

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