Free Speech Standoff Continues At NEIU

Months after Northeastern Illinois University’s student radio station was shut down by administrators in June, the argument continues over the plug was pulled to censor students, or to halt alleged resource mismanagement.

That issue came up in a Board of Trustees meeting last week, according to the Chicago Reader, as did consideration of the ongoing legal battle between the university and linguistics professor Loretta Capeheart.

From a press release issued by, an alliance of supporters lobbying for the professor in her suits against the school, which allege defamation and retaliation for her critiques of the faculty hiring process:

FOIA requests indicate that NEIU’s administration spent $435,000 in the period between May, 2009 and May, 2010. The case was being heard in federal court and is continuing in state court. It is estimated that throughout this additional period the corresponding legal costs and insurance premiums and deductibles amount to many more hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is for a case in which the 7th Circuit Federal Appeals Court ruled at the end of August against NEIU’s attempt to use the U.S. Supreme Court Garcetti v. Ceballos decision to restrict Prof. Capeheart’s freedom of speech. Now her defamation state court case has reached the Illinois State Appeals Court. Thus legal costs continue to mount.

Meanwhile, another professor, Dr. John Boyle, could bring a First Amendment claim in federal court, leading to litigation on par with that brought by Dr. Capeheart. In the case of Prof. Boyle, NEIU President Hahs arbitrarily refused to grant him tenure after every single relevant academic body in the university supported his tenure request. The Illinois Labor Relations Board is currently investigating an unfair labor practice charge brought against NEIU by Dr. Boyle and other faculty in his department. This is another instance in which NEIU legal and insurance costs could amount to additional hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Reader reports that the board meeting ended in “a closed executive session.”