ACTION ALERT: Stop Passage of Bill Restricting Academic Freedom, Free Speech

Time Sensitive. Last chance to act: Make your voice heard!

ACTION ALERT: Stop Illinois Bill to Restrict Free Speech

The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) is calling on its supporters to contact their elected state senators to urge that they drop proposed legislation that would restrict academic freedom and free speech rights.

Things in the IL legislature are moving quickly. The Higher Education Committee of the State Senate is holding a hearing on this bill TODAY, Tuesday March 4, 2014 at 4pm. Even though time is short, we need to make sure the members of that committee hear from as many people as possible. Now is the time for action! This assault on free speech and academic freedom must be stopped today!

ILLINOIS SENATE BILL 3017

SB 3017 (introduced by State Senator Ira I. Silverstein) is a bill being heard in the Illinois Senate Higher Education Committee today that would prohibit public universities and colleges from using any state funds on groups that have made statements in support of, or that participate in boycotts of Israeli academic institutions. Universities that do so would lose all of their state funding for that year. For instance, state aid could not be used for travel, lodging or membership dues for a faculty member attending the conference of an academic association that made a statement in support of a boycott of Israel. This law will lay the groundwork for other attempts to silence debate and opposition on other controversial issues.

Similar legislation has been introduced in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland and in the U.S. Congress. These are all part of an effort to target and punish the American Studies Association (ASA) because it recently passed a resolution endorsing an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Wherever these bills are being introduced, they are being met with active campaigns challenging the constitutionality of the legislation. Academic institutions are the appropriate forums to freely criticize policies, including our own, now the same academic institutions are deprived of their constitutional rights if they voice their criticism against a foreign entity.

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TAKE ACTION!

1) Contact your State Senators who are members of the Illinois Senate Higher Education Committee
See a list of Committee members’ contact information and Talking Points below.
If you don’t know your State Senator,click here and type in your address

2) If your State Senator is not in the Higher Education Committee, contact, in this order:
FIRST: State Senate President, John Cullerton (D). CALL (217) 782-2728.
SECOND: Chairman of the Higher Education Committee, Senator Michael W. Frerichs (D)CALL (217) 782-2507.

3) Help spread the word.
Share this message as widely and as quickly as you can! Try to get this information to people throughout the state…it important that this be a state-wide effort.
Send a letter to the editor in your local paper to express your opposition to this legislation.

TELL STATE SENATORS:
Sample Call Script:
“Hi my name is _______ and I am calling from _____(city/state)
I am calling to oppose the Higher Education Committee Senate Bill 3017.
This bill is unconstitutional because the Supreme Court has ruled that boycotts are protected First Amendment activities. The State cannot deny funding to universities because certain legislators don’t like the views that faculty and staff are expressing through protected First Amendment activities like boycotts. Legislative intrusion in academic decision-making undermines academics’ abilities to associate and exchange views with their colleagues. It is fiscally irresponsible and unconstitutional to condition funding for the Illinois university system on the university’s censorship of academic associations’ political viewpoints.”

MEMBERS OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION COMMITTEE AND THEIR CONTACT INFORMATION:
Illinois Senate Higher Education Committee

TAKE ACTION!

Help make history! Share this action alert widely and spread the word about opposing SB 3017!