Wednesday, September 22, 2004

CSU San Marcos president says Michael Moore visit would be illegal

SAN MARCOS – CSU San Marcos President Karen Haynes said yesterday that it would be illegal to have Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore on campus before the presidential election.

"As a public university, we are prohibited from spending state funds on partisan political activity or direct political advocacy," Haynes wrote in a statement posted on the campus Web site and released to local newspapers' opinion pages.

She argued that Moore has campaigned for Democratic candidates and publicly declared his desire to oust Bush, but she said the university would welcome him as a speaker after the election.

Civil liberties lawyers disagreed, however, saying partisan figures have for years have spoken at universities, and that sitting presidents including George Bush often speak at college commencements, with funding by public universities during an election year.

Nancy Sasaki of the American Civil Liberties Union San Diego chapter concurred with Haynes that the university itself cannot endorse Bush or challenger John Kerry or other political views, and it cannot donate public money to them.

But she said the law does not limit the free speech on a university campus or prevent colleges from having speakers with political views, even if universities pay their honorariums.

"It's ludicrous to say you can't invite any speaker with a political viewpoint," said Sasaki.

Last week, Haynes banned Moore from speaking, although just two days before that the university had asked its student government to help subsidize the $37,000 appearance. The move drew objections from the campus and the community, contending that academic freedom was under attack.

Tomorrow, students plan a protest of the president's action, and this week 78 faculty members signed a letter of protest to Haynes.

(click on the title for the whole article)


At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael Moore spoke at my school, San Francisco State University (also part of the California State University system) in October 2003. I guess Ashcroft must have further limited free speech somehow since then.

Personally, I have no doubt that Moore is better qualified for President than dubuya--but he is not running.

I hope educators at CSU schools aren't encouraging students to believe that their political leaders should be honest and have integrity. Now that might influence the election! Maybe they should cancel classes until after November 2.


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