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Uncensored: U of Chicago makes free speech its hallmark


Anton Ford, a philosophy professor associated with UofC Resists, leads chants at an event featuring Corey Lewandowski. Feng Ye/The Chicago Maroon

Media literacy, thorough event planning emphasized on hyper-tolerant campus

For Illinois Press Association

CHICAGO – No American university is more committed to free speech on campus than the University of Chicago, according to a recent FIRE student survey.

Whether or not faculty and administrators are Spider-Man buffs, they subscribe to the sage advice of Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

“This is important: Our faculty are not the kind of faculty that will just invite a speaker to come and have free reign,” Dean of Students Michele Rasmussen said. “It’s usually a defined program, where it’s an atmosphere for those ideas to be challenged.”

The university scored highest out of the 55 universities that took part in the survey conducted by The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit focused on protecting free speech rights on campuses.

The survey covered universities’ openness, how willing they are to invite a speaker to address controversial issues, self-expression and administrative support.

Geoffrey Stone (left), an Edward H. Levi distinguished law professor who’s filled various leadership positions at the university during his 47-year tenure, says the university has emphasized First Amendment rights since its inception in 1890.

GeoffreyStoneIn 2014, the university’s president, Robert Zimmer, addressed a nationwide trend of free speech challenges at universities by enlisting Stone and other distinguished professors to draft a statement clearly spelling out that under virtually no circumstances the university would prohibit free speech.

The “Chicago Principles” have since been adopted by 70-plus universities, including Princeton, Columbia, and multiple Big Ten universities, including the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, which ranked 42nd in the survey. The University of Wisconsin was a notch above at 41st, and the U of I-Chicago was 44th.

The universities effectively lopped off the first half of the principles, which pertained to the University of Chicago specifically, but kept the universal elements.

Stone said arrogance often gets in the way of sharing intellectual property among higher education, “so adopting another’s statement is hard to do.”

Further, he said, universities have to be prepared for students and faculty who oppose expression of free speech from opposing or extreme viewpoints.

“It takes a good deal of courage, frankly,” Stone said. “It does piss off a lot of people.”


Media literacy is key

The crux of the “Chicago Principles” is summarized nicely in the document’s reference to a dissenting
opinion from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in a Sedition Act case in 1918.

“... The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas – that the best test of truth is the
power of the thought to get itself accepted in the free competition of the market,” the dissent reads.
Stone said free expression was integral to desegregation, interracial marriage, and the women’s rights

“They would have been flat-out rejected without hesitation at different times in the past,” he said.

He said the university was among the first to offer benefits for gay marriages.

“At a point in the past, that would have been regarded as absurd,” Stone said. “Because we have allowed the advocacy of those challenging positions, we’ve learned and changed our minds about things. We always have to be open to challenges.”

The difference today, he readily concedes, is the speed at which information, and misinformation, travels. Five years ago, Stone began teaching a Freedom of Speech course that keyed on vetting information.

“We live in an environment where it’s more important than ever for people to be skeptical,” Stone said.

As baseless claims and conspiracy theories flood the media – both social media and broadcasts and print publications – consumers must scrutinize the content.

“Our students are living in that society. That’s the reality of the world we’re living in,” Stone said.

He said shielding students from misinformation fails to prepare them for the real world.

Three years ago, the university retooled its orientation program to emphasize media literacy to new students as soon as they arrived on campus. Not coincidentally, the university borrowed heavily from the orientation program of Purdue University – one of the first institutions to adopt and adapt the “Chicago Principles.”

MicheleRasmussen“We sort of returned the favor,” Rasmussen (left) said, laughing.

In a large venue, faculty, students and special guests speak, do a Q&A session and role-play. Videos of such figures as Barack Obama are shown. It’s all done in an hour.

“It’s not too preachy, and it brings some abstract concepts down to a level students can understand,” Rasmussen said. “It’s not effective to have a bunch of talking-head administrators.”

It was obviously difficult to conduct orientation virtually, she said. Another challenge has been meeting students at their level, given that about two-thirds of the University of Chicago’s students are graduate students.

“One could argue they’re even more diverse than undergrads,” Rasmussen said. “They represent different age groups, some have families, and they’re from different countries.”

Rasmussen said interactive modules have been built, and much of the First Amendment work has been folded into curriculum and separate exercises. For instance, the law school had its students write a speech code.

“It ended up looking a lot like the ‘Chicago Principles,’ ” Rasmussen said.


Infrastructure keeps events ‘on the rails’

Controversial figures are more than welcome to speak at a campus event – as long as they’re willing to be rebutted.

Many such events at the University of Chicago have failed to materialize, because speakers have refused to take part in a debate or a Q&A session.

“It wasn’t because of the political views,” Rasmussen said. “They weren’t willing to have the back-and-forth discourse.”

She said the university has “hundreds, if not thousands” of speakers on campus, and that faculty and administration collaborate to know what’s on the calendar and plan each event in such a way that “it doesn’t go off the rails.”

They designate protest areas, train staff to de-escalate situations, and provide ample security. Disrupting events is not allowed, and if interrupters persist, they’re removed.

“We take events management and planning very seriously,” Rasmussen said. “When you see a lot of events on a college campus that goes off the rails, when you dig a little deeper, it’s usually because of bad planning of the event. You need to do that work up front to ensure you have the kind of event you want.”



After kids broke a piñata that represented Donald Trump by hitting it with a long stick, the head of the piñata hung in front of the protesters. Feng Ye / The Chicago Maroon 

Rasmussen said the university has “had plenty of dust-ups over the years,” but its employees will neither be gagged nor disciplined for exercising their First Amendment rights.

“That just doesn’t happen at the University of Chicago,” she said. “This is not the kind of place where you’re going to see administrative overreach.”

Stone conceded it’s challenging to tell students and faculty they will hear ideas they find offensive, even revolting.

“That’s not easy, and the reason they have to learn to do that is they cannot trust anyone in positions of authority to decide what ideas cannot be spoken,” he said.

He and Rasmussen emphasized the university provides “safe spaces”, which are spelled out in the principles as various student organizations.

“You don’t have to just sit there, take it, and feel upset,” Rasmussen said. “There are places you can take your concerns, and get support. We do have safe places, where students can step out of a controversial situation.”


‘A slightly cynical point of view’

Rasmussen said there isn’t a threshold at which the university will determine a point of view too outrageous to be allowed on campus.

That doesn’t sit well with Caroline Kubzansky, a fourth-year senior who’s worked for The Maroon student newspaper since she set foot on campus. She’s now the managing editor, and is skeptical of the university’s motivations.

“I take a slightly cynical point of view on the university’s emphasis on free speech,” she said. “The university’s efforts have struck me as a marketing scheme.”

She said a culture of curiosity is a good thing, and that universities deserve credit for thinking outside the box, and outside the domain of scholars. But she thinks the university’s policy is perhaps too tolerant.

“[The Chicago Principles] is a way of saying that people don’t immediately tar and feather conservatives for what they have to say,” she said. “Sometimes it might be too good at not tarring and feathering people with reprehensible viewpoints.”

The university does not require its professors to provide content warnings before they introduce content that’s bound to be offensive to some, if not repulsive or potentially incendiary.

Kubzansky said that while she respects the policy, she’s grateful all the professors she’s had alert their students

“Most professors who care about that stuff will put it in anyway,” she said. “In the circles I run, it’s called manners. Try not to blindside someone with something offensive.

"The world is awful enough as it is.”

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Contact Information:
Manuel Hernández, executive director
(312) 809-6199
Email: ed@almachicago.org

IDHS Secretary Dulce Quintero to receive inaugural
"ALMA del Líder" Award at ALMA's 2nd Annual Community Reception

CHICAGO – On Nov. 30, the Association of Latinos/as/xs Motivating Action (ALMA) will present Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Dulce Quintero with the inaugural ALMA del Líder (Soul of A Leader) award in recognition of their groundbreaking appointment as the first nonbinary individual to helm a state agency.

Quintero was appointed secretary of IDHS by Gov. JB Pritzker in September 2023. Prior to this, they served as assistant secretary of operations for IDHS since 2019. Quintero, a Mexican immigrant born to migrant farm workers, has dedicated their life and career to serving and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community. Their impact in Chicago includes being one of the first Latinx organizers of the Dyke March in 2008, a founding board member of Orgullo en Acción, the lead of the Chicago Latino Pride Picnic, founder of Casa Corazón Youth Drop-in Program at La Casa Norte, and proud board member of ALMA. In recognition of their contributions, Quintero was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 2017.

“Secretary Quintero is the embodiment of Latinx LGBTQ+ leadership that my co-founders and I envisioned when we started ALMA nearly 35 years ago,” shared Julio Rodriguez, ALMA’s cofounder, and board president. “To have their voice and values leading our state’s largest agency is a gift to our community and to the people of Illinois.”

The award will be presented at ALMA’s 2nd Annual Community Reception on Nov. 30 at La Celia Latin Kitchen. This event is expected to draw approximately 200 attendees, including community leaders and elected officials, all coming together to celebrate the brilliance of the Latinx LGBTQ+ community and the advocacy efforts of ALMA Chicago. Sponsors include Hispanic Federation, Equality Illinois, ViiV Healthcare, Calor and Comcast.

This event is free and open to the press. More information at https://tinyurl.com/3cjhs4ht.

# # #

The Association of Latinos/as/xs Motivating Action (ALMA) Chicago was founded in 1989 to fight for the rights of the Latinx Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Gender-expansive community by advocating for fairness and equality and affirming Latinx LGBTQ culture. With nearly thirty-five years of service focused on advocacy, leadership and pride, ALMA is one of the longest-serving Latinx LGTBQ+ organizations in the United States.





Contact Information:
Alison Maley
(217) 241-0595
Email: alison@ilprincipals.org

Illinois Principals Association to host
'Leading Forward' Conference in October

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Principals Association will host its 52nd Education Leaders Annual Conference and Exhibition, “Leading Forward,” Oct.15-17, 2023, in Peoria. The annual conference provides an opportunity for principals and other administrators to learn from leaders in the education field and participate in sessions to better serve their schools.   

2023-2024 IPA President Paul Kelly shared, "We are extraordinarily excited to welcome hundreds of school leaders from all over Illinois to our conference. As we come together for unparalleled professional learning and collaborative growth, we will inspire each other to continue leading forward in the aftermath of some of our most challenging years. Our keynote speakers will share stories of resiliency and resolve, and our small group sessions will strengthen our bonds as school leaders. This year's conference has the potential to be one of the largest ever, and it will definitely be one of the most memorable!” 

The Educational Leaders conference will begin Sunday with a golf tournament at Weaver Ridge Golf Course. The IPA Board of Directors, IPA Congress, Diversity & Equity Committee, and School Leader Networks will meet Sunday afternoon at the Marriott Pere Marquette. The first day concludes with a welcome reception sponsored by Association Member Benefits Advisors (AMBA) at Venue Chisca to honor IPA Past Presidents. 

The conference will include presentations from keynote speakers Arshay Cooper, Illinois State Superintendent Dr. Tony Sanders, and Kelly Leonard. Small group sessions at the conference include timely topics such as: leading with resilience, creating a restorative school culture, trauma-informed leadership, school leader recruitment, and social-emotional learning strategies.  

The first general session on Monday morning will feature Arshay Cooper and his presentation, “Leading A Winning Crew.” Cooper is a rower, bestselling and award-winning author of the book “A Most Beautiful Thing,” two-time Golden Oar recipient, a motivational speaker, activist, and the protagonist of the film “A Most Beautiful Thing.” Arshay grew up on the West Side of Chicago and in 1997 joined (and later became captain of) the country's first all-Black high school rowing team at Manley High School. He then dedicated two years of his life to AmeriCorps, focusing on Diversity Equity & Inclusion, and attended Le Cordon Bleu, becoming a personal chef for World Wrestling Entertainment, Warner Brothers film sets, and professional athletes. Arshay has also helped to create several rowing programs for low-income youth across the country so that other young people can experience the profound change that can happen on the water. Arshay is the founder of the national award-winning nonprofit The A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund, which introduced thousands of under-resourced youths to the sport of rowing. Arshay's mission has sparked the MLK Day of Service "DAY ON" for collegiate and high school sports teams across the country and community rowing events between local police and community members. 

Speakers at the second general session on Monday afternoon include Dr. Tony Sanders, Illinois state superintendent of schools, and Paul Kelly, 2023-2024 IPA president. IPA Principal of the Year awards, Herman Graves Award, Reaching Out & Building Bridges Award, and the Mr. John Ourth & Dr. Fred W. Singleton Professional Development Scholarships will also be presented at this session.  

Conference attendees will gather Monday evening at the Marriott Pere Marquette for the President’s Reception, sponsored by Books Are Fun. Attendees can relax and network with colleagues while participating in music trivia and listening to the debut of The Hall Monitors band, comprised of IPA staff. 

Kelly Leonard, vice president of creative strategy, innovation and business development for The Second City, will begin the conference Tuesday morning with his presentation, “An Improvised Education: Lessons from The Second City.” Leonard's life work has been operating behind the scenes at the world famous Second City, hiring and working with talent such as Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and Keegan-Michael Key, but also bringing the theater's improvisational training into the world of education, business, health care and more. His book, "Yes, And," has been a best-selling business book for Harper Collins and has been translated into dozens of languages all over the world. In this talk, he will discuss how his work connects to finding joy through adversity, how storytelling can enhance leadership, and the power of ensemble behaviors to enhance resilience and connection. 

The conference will conclude on Tuesday with IPA’s own Brian Schwartz, deputy executive director and general legal counsel, and Alison Maley, government and public relations director, as they provide an update on the education-related laws passed during the 2023 Illinois legislative session. Schwartz and Maley will provide an update on the education-related laws passed during the session, share how school leaders can stay up to date on legal impacts to schools, and how to advocate for schools and the profession at state and national levels.   

For more information about the IPA or to register to attend, please visit www.ilprincipals.org

The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization which serves more than 6,600 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois and whose mission is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders. 






Contact Information:
Alison Maley
(217) 299-3122
Email: alison@ilprincipals.org

Illinois Principals Association encourages
principal appreciation in October

SPRINGFIELD – Lifetouch and the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) encourage all communities in Illinois to celebrate Principal Appreciation Week, October 15-21, 2023, and Principal Appreciation Day on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. This state-endorsed recognition was first approved by the Illinois governor in 1990 and is celebrated annually. The IPA also joins the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the American Federation of School Administrators to recognize October as National Principals Month.

Principal Appreciation Day provides learning communities an opportunity to publicly recognize the work, commitment and importance of principals, assistant principals, and deans throughout the state. Lifetouch and the IPA invite all teachers, students, parents, and community members to perform some act of appreciation on Friday, Oct. 20, to acknowledge the leadership of building administrators in Illinois’ public and private schools.

IPA President and Elk Grove High School Principal Dr. Paul Kelly shared, “The school principal has one of the most demanding, challenging, and rewarding jobs in existence – shaping and guiding one of the very cornerstones of the community. And as we celebrate Principal Appreciation Week, let me be the first to say to my colleagues, THANK YOU for leading forward each and every day.”

Kelly added, “Even as we prepare for the unpredictability of every morning, afternoon, and evening, the school leaders of Illinois are proud to embrace our amazing opportunity to influence and inspire every member of our community. Our students, staff, parents, and our neighbors look to their community schools as the foundation of our future. Each and every day, there is a principal there; shaping the culture, building the systems, and celebrating the learning. There is no job like ours – incessant yet incredible, exhausting yet exhilarating. We wouldn't have it any other way.”

“This year, we celebrate and encourage our state’s school leaders as they Lead Forward,” said Dr. Jason Leahy, IPA executive director. “To do so, these courageous individuals lead their learning organizations with optimism, humility, vision, perseverance, and a deep commitment to do what is best for their students. Both research and common sense tell us how critical these servants are to positively influence young people, teachers, and communities. For this, they deserve our respect and gratitude.”

Lifetouch is proud to be the official school photographer for the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Lifetouch is honored to support local members of the Illinois Principals Association in recognition of Principal Appreciation Day. Lifetouch is excited to have joined forces with Shutterfly to bring together two industry leaders who share a common purpose – to share life’s joy through capturing and preserving memories with the click of a camera. While we continue to deliver the quality photography and service you expect from Lifetouch, we are creating a new, innovative experience that will allow you to do more with your photos than ever before. As a part of our mission to help you share your memories, Lifetouch and Shutterfly are truly better together! Learn more at: https://lifetouch.com/k12shutterfly/.

The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization which serves more than 6,200 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois and whose mission is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders. For more information about the IPA, please visit www.ilprincipals.org.



Contact Information:
Sherry Sejnost, Program Chair
(309) 454-1341
Email: irc@illinoisreadingcouncil.org

ILLINOIS READS! A Reading State of Mind 
www.illinoisreads.org and www.illinoisreadingcouncil.org
 www.facebook.com/IllinoisReads  www.twitter.com/IllinoisReads 
 #IllinoisReads   #IRCReads

Illinois Reading Council's 2024 Illinois Reads Book List will be featured at the Illinois Reads Book Festival on Feb. 3, 2024,
and at the IRC Conference on March 14-15, 2024

The Illinois Reading Council (IRC) has just released the list of Illinois Reads books for 2024. Illinois Reads is a statewide program that promotes reading for all Illinois citizens. The program promotes six books in six different age bands by authors and illustrators who have ties to Illinois. The books range from read-to books for infants to books for adult readers. Bookmarks and posters highlighting the Illinois Reads books will be available in early 2024. Order early, as supplies are limited!

The 2024 Illinois Reads Program will be featured at the Illinois Reads Book Festival at Westmont High School on Feb. 3, 2024. Readers throughout Illinois are invited to this free event. The Illinois Reads Program will also be featured at the annual IRC Conference in Springfield on March 14-15, 2024. Conference registration is now open for educators, librarians, and others interested in promoting literacy. Visit our websites to find out about other upcoming Illinois Reads events. 

The Illinois Reads book selections for 2024 are: 

"My Hair Is Like the Sun," by St. Clair Detrick-Jules and illustrated by Tabitha Brown
"Mine!" by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann
"No Fair!," by Jacob Grant
"You Are New," by Lucy Knisley
"A Book About You and All the World Too," by Jean Reidy
"Ethan and the Strays," by John Sullivan

"Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year," by Andrea Beaty
"3x4: TOON Level 1," by Ivan Brunetti
"The New Bicycle," by Darcy Day Zoells
"Not a Monster," by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez
"You Are A Story," by Bob Raczka
"How to Explain Coding to a Grown-Up," by Ruth Spiro

"Cornbread & Poppy at the Museum," by Matthew Cordell
"The Enchanted Bridge," by Zetta Elliott
"Etta Invincible," by Reese Eschmann
"Josephine and Her Dishwashing Machine," by Kate Hannigan
"Mayor Good Boy Turns Bad," by Dave Scheidt and Miranda Harmon
"The Stupendous Switcheroo: New Powers Every 24 Hours," by Mary Winn Heider and Chad Sell

"The Bravest Warrior in Nefaria," by Adi Alsaid
"It Found Us," by Lindsay Currie
"Restoring Prairie, Woods, and Pond: How a Small Trail Can Make a Big Difference," by Laurie Lawlor
"Lo & Behold," by Wendy Mass and illustrated by Gabi Mendez
"World Made of Glass," by Ami Polonsky
"The Lost Ryū," by Emi Watanabe Cohen

"Messenger: The Legend of Muhammad Ali," by Marc Bernardin
"Wolfpack: A Novel," by Amelia Brunskill
"Saint Juniper’s Folly," by Alex Crespo
"Whalefall: A Novel," by Daniel Kraus
"Graceland Cemetery: Chicago Stories, Symbols, and Secrets," by Adam Selzer
"If I Have To Be Haunted," by Miranda Sun

"Good Night, Irene: A Novel," by Luis Alberto Urrea
"A Taste for Poison: Eleven Deadly Molecules and the
Killers Who Used Them," by Neil Bradbury, Ph.D.
"King: A Life," by Jonathan Eig
"I Have Some Questions for You: A Novel," by Rebecca Makkai
"Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories," by Audrey Niffenegger
"On Rotation: A Novel," by Shirlene Obuobi

Illinois Reads is a statewide literacy program provided by the Illinois Reading Council, a nonprofit organization with close to 2,000 members across Illinois. The mission of the Illinois Reading Council is to provide support and leadership to all who promote and teach lifelong literacy. Book lists from 2013 to 2024 may be found on the Illinois Reads website. For more information, visit our websites at www.IllinoisReads.org and www.IllinoisReadingCouncil.org.




Contact Information:
Laura L. Scarry
(630) 690-2800 ext. 102
Email: lscarry@deanoscarry.com

Village of Crestwood agrees to pay $1.8 million
to five former police officers

The Village of Crestwood Board of Trustees at its Thursday board meeting approved a $1.8 million settlement in a civil rights lawsuit filed by five former Village of Crestwood police officers against the village, former mayor, the chief of police and several other high-ranking village police officials.

Former part-time officers Don Preston, Joseph Cortesi, Gilbert Hueramo III and Eric Chmura; and full-time officer Robert Hoselton, filed a federal lawsuit alleging they were fired or not reappointed, forced to resign, or brought up on disciplinary charges within days of each other in October 2019 because of their efforts to unionize the village’s police officers. They filed suit against the village Chief of Police David Weigand, Deputy Chief David Alexander, Lt. Rich Wyman, Lt. Chris Spencer, Sgt. Michael Coutre, former Village of Crestwood Mayor Lou Presta, the Village Board of Fire and Police  Commissioners, and current or former Commissioners Rob Lyons, Frank Caldario, Joseph Zangara and James Fowler.

In 2019 members of the village’s police department sought to unionize the part-time and full-time officers. On Aug. 1, 2019, the Illinois Labor Relations Board certified the Illinois Council of Police (ICOPS) as the exclusive bargaining unit for the part-time officers.

The lawsuit alleges the village and the other defendants engaged in a campaign of intimidation, threats and coercion against Preston, Cortesi, Hueramo, Chmura, Hoselton, and other village police officers in an effort to “bust” the union and intimidate officers who supported the union. Three months after the union was certified, Preston, Cortesi, Hueramo and Chmura were either terminated, forced to resign or not re-appointed, and Hoselton was brought up on disciplinary charges and later terminated by the Village’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.

The lawsuit, Don Preston et al. v. David Weigand et al., Case No. 20-CV-4272, was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois. At the time of settlement, no trial date had been  scheduled. Preston, Cortesi, Hueramo, Chmura and Hoselton were represented by Laura L. Scarry of DeAno & Scarry, LLC, Chicago, Illinois. 


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