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Ever since FIRE launched its Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project last summer, I have been telling everyone to keep an eye on the Chicago State University case. And last week, we were able to learn a little more about why the Chicago State administration needs more public scrutiny. As the Chicago Tribune reports:
The president of Chicago State University tried to pressure a high level administrator to file false claims of sexual harassment against an outspoken professor to help the college try to silence him, according to court documents filed Thursday as part of an ongoing lawsuit. In a sworn statement, LaShondra Peebles, the college’s former interim vice president of enrollment and student affairs, said before she was fired that President Wayne Watson pushed her to accuse Phillip Beverly of sexual harassment, though Peebles said she was never harassed.
As you may remember, Chicago State University made it onto FIRE’s “worst” list earlier this month. The list provided a quick recap of what occurred prior to Peebles’s statement:
Two professors have sued Chicago State University (CSU) as part of FIRE’s Stand Up for Speech Litigation Project for attempting to censor their blog, CSU Faculty Voice, which is highly critical of CSU’s administration. CSU’s attempts to silence the two professors have been heavy-handed and contrived and include disciplinary charges for “cyber-bullying” based on a two-minute face-to-face conversation. That’s not all, however: Two students filed a lawsuit against CSU alleging that the university shut down the independent student newspaper, invalidated their election to the student government, and ultimately expelled one of them, all as part of a campaign to stop them from drawing attention to corruption within the administration.
But nothing I can say compares to simply reading LaShondra Peebles’s sworn statement. Take the time to read the whole thing (it’s only 8 pages), and tell a friend. And, most of all, keep your eyes on Chicago!