What's a Group Gotta Do to Post a Flyer Around Here?

On Sunday night, Northern Illinois University's Student Association Senate denied recognition to the school's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), which means it may not post flyers or meet on campus. The Senate already had denied activity-fee funding to SSDP, declaring it a "political" group, as opposed to a "social justice" or "advocacy" group. Sunday's meeting was called to address constitutional objections to this decision raised by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which last month wrote a letter to NIU President John G. Peters noting that NIU, as a state-run university, is bound by the First Amendment, which prohibits viewpoint-based discrimination in the allocation of funding and facilities to student groups. Why did the Student Association Senate nevertheless refuse to recognize SSDP when it had a second chance? If the majority had a justification aside from spite, it is not apparent in the account of the meeting provided by the Northern Star, NIU's student newspaper:

Senator Austin Quick, who voted for recognition, said he was surprised that NIU SSDP was not recognized Sunday.

"I think with all the fear and blatant disrespect towards the SA Senate, it upset enough senators to sway their votes," Quick said.

Senator Khiry Johnson said he voted against the motion to approve NIU SSDP because they did not make changes to their application after their initial recognition postponement.

"I felt like they didn't respect our decision the first time nor did they take our critiques seriously," Johnson said.

Given their inflated sense of their own importance and their experience in passing blatantly unconstitutional legislation just because they're offended by something, these guys seem qualified to be real senators someday. NIU SSDP President Jeremy Orbach suggested the Senate should be worried about the First Amendment instead of the Student Association's application forms. "Apparently, nobody is taking this seriously," he told the Northern Star. "Hopefully someone will start paying attention soon."

Under the current policy, both "political" and "religious" groups are ineligible for funding. As FIRE notes, that distinction in itself is constitutionally problematic, and in applying it the university has arbitrarily discriminated against groups based on puzzling criteria. While Advocates for Choice, the Campus Antiwar Network, the Consumer Education Society, PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment), Students for Life (NIU), the Vegetarian Education Group, and the Women's Rights Alliance have been deemed eligible for funding as "social justice" or "advocacy" groups, the Committee for the Preservation of Wildlife and the Model United Nations, along with SSDP, have been deemed ineligible because they are too "political." Similarly, the Baha'i Club and NIU Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers both can receive funding under the latest guidelines, while groups such as Hillel, Campus Crusade for Christ, the Latter Day Saint Student Association, the Muslim Students Association, the Newman Catholic Student Center, and the Pagan Student Association are ineligible because of their religious character.

Furthermore, FIRE notes, "The new definitions even prohibit a student group from receiving Activity Fee funding if any of its activities result in any individual, anywhere, 'petitioning Federal, State, or Local legislative or executive bodies for policies advocated by that group.'" FIRE's Adam Kissel sums up the constitutional violations embodied in NIU's policies regarding student groups:

NIU's Student Association Senate has violated all five of the rights codified in the First Amendment. The Senate violated the rights of freedom of speech and assembly by denying recognition to Students for Sensible Drug Policy and by discriminating against all groups it arbitrarily deems 'political' or 'religious.' The Senate violates the right to freedom of the press by stating that unrecognized groups are prohibited from posting flyers on campus and that publications will presumably threaten a group's funding. The Senate's policy violates the First Amendment religion clauses, since Baha'i, humanist, and atheist groups can receive funding to discuss religious topics, but other religious groups get nothing, in practice favoring some religious groups over others. Finally, perhaps the Senate's most stunning achievement of all was to violate the First Amendment right to petition government for the redress of grievances.

FIRE is urging President Peters to "immediately step in to preserve students' rights."

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  • Rich||

    The Senate already had denied activity-fee funding to SSDP, declaring it a "political" group, as opposed to a "social justice" or "advocacy" group.

    I presume the Senate, as a "political" group, is also not funded.

  • Zeb||

    Seriously. What social justice or advocacy groups are there that are not political? They are hardly mutually exclusive categories.

  • LarryA||

    "Social justice groups advocate for causes I believe in. Political gangs shill for the other side."

  • hmm||

    I ran the Student Investment Trust for a while. I dreaded dealing with the student government. It's a breeding ground of pretentious self delusional retards with bloated egos and visions of grandeur. I pissed them off more than once when I pointed out that the only group on campus to post a 9+ percent annualized return (over its history) net of providing educational and charitable contributions was SIT.

    If that experience wasn't enough to make someone hate government I don't know what was. Sniveling little pricks, all of them.

  • sevo||

    "Sniveling little pricks, all of them."
    What do you think the high-school hall monitors do after they graduate?

  • ||

    The ones that go to college end up on the student senate. The remaining 97% of them end up in a police car within 12 months...and unfortunately I mean the front seat of the police car.

  • Brett L||

    Some join HOA boards.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    "I felt like they didn't respect our decision the first time nor did they take our critiques seriously," Johnson said.

    RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAH!

  • cynical||

    "NIU SSDP President Jeremy Orbach"

    I first read this as Jerry Orbach. What a disappointment.

    Apparently lefties are so entrenched in college that "social justice" no longer counts as "political". THE POLITICAL SCIENCE IS SETTLED!

  • kinnath||

    Zombie Jerry would be an improvement.

  • Jeremy Orbach||

    Sorry man.... he died awhile ago.... :)

  • Bill||

    Social Justice is not political. The (Social?) Science is settled.

    LOL. Are maybe I should be crying?

  • ||

    declaring it a "political" group, as opposed to a "social justice" or "advocacy" group.

    America, say hello to your future.

  • ||

    it may not post flyers or meet on campus

    Anti-government hate speech.

    The worstest kind, Dude.

  • ||

    Here's an idea. Post them anyway. And every day when they are all taken down, post them again. Post until all the students see what's happening. And run all of your members for student senate.

  • Spoonman.||

    I felt like they didn't respect our decision the first time nor did they take our critiques seriously

    Fuck you, you self-important worthless shitstain.

  • ||

    Petty tyrants in training to become future not so petty tyrants. Wonderful.

  • MNG||

    How in the world would one distinguish between a"political" group and an "advocacy" or "social justice" group?

    Wouldn't any push for social justice involve something effecting politics?

  • ||

    I know it when I see it.

  • MNG||

    You think it was liberal objection to drug legalization? More likely it was administration fear of conservative backlash.

  • ||

    You could assume that.
    But that's not what I meant.

    My point was that these folks' distinction between Advocacy, Political, Religious, Social Justice is bases on nothing but their own personal bias. They just know it when they see it....

  • cynical||

    Maybe it was the fact that colleges are controlled by progressives instead of liberals, and progressives are all about some puritanism.

  • MNG||

    I'm not sure progressives are all about puritanism (it depends on what you are talking about) and I'm not sure colleges are "controlled" by progressives. Most profs are liberal but administrators, presidents and bov's control the colleges.

  • Jeremy Orbach||

    We see the line drawn between political and social justice groups using the IRS Tax Law definition of what a political organization is. We do not publicly support candidates, nor do we publicly support political parties. We encompass the full spectrum of student political views.

  • MNG||

    I would say before jumping on the two minute hate that the facts seem to leave open that the group was just careless in following the procedures for this kind of recognition. It seems odd that they would deny a pro-legalization group at the same time they would allow pro-life and pro-choice groups, anti-war groups, etc.

  • Invisible Finger||

    So they didn't kowtow to bureaucrats?

    Sounds like a distinction without a difference.

  • MNG||

    Yeah, they shouldn't have any procedures. They should just put cash in a bucket labeled "student funding and recognition" and anyone who wants can come by and take what they need...

  • Invisible Finger||

    The cash gab is one thing. The posting of flyers and using a conference room is something else.

  • ||

    Or they could simply not fund any group and at the same time not infringe on the (privately-funded) groups freedom of speech.

    I get the feeling minge would rather have selective funding and free speech than no funding and unfettered ability to meet, organize and voice their opinion. And by "their," I mean any group of two or more people that want to advocate anything from abortion to white supremacy to animal rights to restoration of Pac Man machines.

  • ||

    minge would rather have selective funding and free speech

    I meant selective funding and limited speech...like what they have now.

  • MNG||

    "I get the feeling minge would rather have selective funding and free speech than no funding and unfettered ability to meet, organize and voice their opinion."

    You'd be wrong. I think if you fund one group you have to fund even the College KKK group if it goes through the available procedures.

  • ||

    the facts seem to leave open that the group was just careless in following the procedures for this kind of recognition.

    Who cares, when the criteria ("political" v. "advocacy" blah blah) are inherently arbitrary and subjective?

  • Spoonman.||

    Nowhere do the Senators (barf) say anything about "their forms were wrong" or "they missed black 32C". Just "they didn't show respect".

  • Spoonman.||

    BLANK 32C. Blank 32C.

  • ||

    racist.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    You mean that there are arrogant, left-wing douchebags in higher education?

    Fucking A, why am I always the last to find these things out?

  • sevo||

    "Students for Sensible Drug Policy"
    Well, no *wonder*! Who wants "sensible" anywhere close to "drug policy"?

  • Husky||

    And NIU wonders why they have campus violence issues.

  • ||

    Under the current policy, both "political" and "religious" groups are ineligible for funding.

    Funding? Fuck you, and all the other prissy little "I've got sand in my vagina" clubs. If it's really important to you, buy your own beer and pizza.

    As for posting information, and holding meetings on campus, I would fucking ignore that bullshit, and show up at the expulsion hearing with both barrels loaded with grapeshot.

  • Paul||

    as opposed to a "social justice" or "advocacy" group

    Ok, so how is it not an advocacy group?

  • ||

    You think words should mean something ?

  • ||

    Hate to say it, guys, but refusing a group taxpayer-assisted funding is not a violation of that group's constitutional rights. Now if they'd apply that principle to all college groups...

  • ||

    "NIU, as a state-run university, is bound by the First Amendment, which prohibits viewpoint-based discrimination in the allocation of funding and facilities to student groups." right there in the article.

  • Paul||

    It's concievable that providing funding to groups is itself a form of discrimination.

  • Paul||

    This.

  • ||

    They won't let them *post* *flyers*

  • ||

    I saw the best minds of my generation
    Destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical
    I should be allowed to glue my poster
    I should be allowed to think

    I should be allowed to glue my poster
    I should be allowed to think
    I should be allowed to think
    I should be allowed to think
    And I should be allowed to blurt the merest idea
    If by random whim, one occurs to me
    If necessary, leave paper stains on the grey utility pole

    I saw the worst bands of my generation
    applied by magic marker to dry wall
    I should be allowed to shoot my mouth off
    I should have a call in show

    I should be allowed to glue my poster
    I should be allowed to think
    I should be allowed to think
    I should be allowed to think
    And I should be allowed to blurt the merest idea
    If by random whim, one occurs to me
    If necessary, leave paper stains on the grey utility pole

    I am not allowed
    To ever come up with a single original thought
    I am not allowed
    To meet the criminal government agent who oppresses me

    I was the worst hope of my generation
    Destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical
    I should be allowed to share my feelings
    I should be allowed to feel

    I should be allowed to glue my poster
    I should be allowed to think
    I should be allowed to think
    I should be allowed to think
    And I should be allowed to blurt the merest idea
    If by random whim one occurs to me
    But sadly, this can never be

    I am not allowed to think
    I am not allowed to think
    I am not allowed to think (I am not allowed to think)
    I am not allowed to think (I am not allowed to think)
    I am not allowed to think (I am not allowed to think)
    I am not allowed to think (I am not allowed to think)

  • Ska||

    They Might Be Giants rules.

  • Jeremy Orbach||

    Hey man,

    We love this. We will be sharing this poem / song, and if you would like credit for it, please e-mail us at niussdp@gmail.com.

    Thanks,

    Jeremy Orbach
    NIU SSDP President and Founder

  • MNG||

    A lot of folks here are decrying the "liberals" who did this. WTF is that based on? The liberals who funded the Pro-life club shot down the drug legalization club for liberal reasons? That doesn't make much sense to me...

  • ||

    Just did a page search on "liberal"
    5 matches - 4 of them in your posts.
    1 LiberalDouchebag fake name above.

    just sayin.....

  • MNG||

    "Apparently lefties are so entrenched in college that "social justice" no longer counts as "political". THE POLITICAL SCIENCE IS SETTLED!"

    "You mean that there are arrogant, left-wing douchebags in higher education?"

    Just sayin.

  • hmm||

    Have you perused poli sci classes lately and the advisers to SGA groups?

    While I agree it's a little kneejerkish, but given my experience I have a hard time believing most SGA groups aren't at least majority liberal with liberal advisers.

  • ||

    Now you can tell all your friends we had a pissing contest and you won.

  • cynical||

    My comment was directed at the idea that "social justice" was not political, a concept that you yourself found questionable, and a viewpoint that would only plausibly be held by a close-minded leftist.

  • Bill||

    A lefty is not the same as a liberal.

    It is more vague. It can be used broadly or some use it to mean hard-left.

    Since most libertarians consider themselves to be classical liberals, I think left and progressive are used much more often here as pejoratives.

  • hmm||

    My experience with SGA is that the majority were flaming liberal poli sci students that all wanted to go to law school and become the saviors of the world. It's never about the group, it's about the perceived power the little pricks think they have.

    The hilarious part for me, at the time The Student Investment Trust was just that, a trust. The little fuckers hated the fact they had zero control over it, hell some administration didn't like the way the trust was set up because they didn't have control either.

  • ||

    refusing a group taxpayer-assisted funding is not a violation of that group's constitutional rights.

    I'm gonna go ahead and disagree.

    The funds were collected from all students (and supplemented with taxpayer "contributions"), so any student group should have access to them. I think NO student group should receive funding from taxpayer funds or student fees, but that's a different issue.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: P Brooks,

    The funds were collected from all students (and supplemented with taxpayer "contributions"), so any student group should have access to them.

    You don't have a right to loot, whence it came from notwithstanding. Those student associations that receive the loot willingly are nothing more (and certainly much less) than damned thieves.

  • MNG||

    OM thinks anyone who partakes of a government benefit is a thief. He walks alongside, but not on, roads to work for this very reason. And only after obtaining written consent from the property owners along the way.

  • hmm||

    Ah, the joys of false comparison coupled with the mightier than thou. With a dash of hyperbole.

  • ||

    That strawman is easier and cheaper to build now that the wheat harvest is in, isn't it minge?

  • MNG||

    Yeah, no hyperbole or false comparison in OM's original post mine was responding too!

  • Cliché Bandit||

    DRINK!!!!

    we havent had "Teh Roads" in a while...I think it is worth TWO drinks.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    OM thinks anyone who partakes of a government benefit is a thief.

    When the benefit is taken voluntarily, yes. A person that is extorted into taking a "benefit" is not a thief.

    The students that receive the loot are thieves. The people that have to send their kids to government-run school under threats are not.

    Using a road when it is already THERE and there's no allowed alternative is not thieving, MNG, any more than a raped woman whose rapist gives her money could be construed as a whore.

  • MNG||

    The road is built with money taken by yourself and others. The student activity fee is funded with money taken by yourself and others. True, they could not try for the funds and spend their own money, but you could traverse through non-road trails. If the latter seems silly it is because it is, just like your comparison of people taking student activity fees as criminals.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    The road is built with money taken by yourself and others.

    Ah, right - poor government, it was made to take my money so I could . . . take it.

    Did you read what you wrote, MNG? Or are you misconstruing what is being argued on purpose, just to get a leg up (basically a STRAWMAN.)

    The student activity fee is funded with money taken by yourself and others.

    Really? Taken by me? And others? My, my, my! How does that work, MNG?

    If the latter seems silly it is because it is, just like your comparison of people taking student activity fees as criminals.

    It is silly because it is totally contrary to what I am saying - which is why I was careful to say "willingly" when I said "Those student associations that receive the loot willingly are nothing more (and certainly much less) than damned thieves."

    Leftist crackpots sure have a penchant for the strawman.

  • Old Mexican||

    Oh, and don't try the canard that government is me is government is others. Government only represents government.

  • Robert||

    You don't have a right to loot, whence it came from notwithstanding. Those student associations that receive the loot willingly are nothing more (and certainly much less) than damned thieves.


    Their money was already taken. What other choice are they provided with as a way to get some of it back?

  • Jeremy Orbach||

    Robert,

    You are absolutely right. This is something that has been on our mind since our denial. We do want some of our money back that we paid to fund organizations on campus.

  • ||

    Robert,

    I think there are two issues, the money paid as fees and the support of state monies for the clubs. I don't think anyone would dispute your right to get your share of the student club fee money back.

    The fairest thing, if they are going to continue to stonewall you, is to refund the student club fee to your individual members.

    And the fliers part is pure bullshit. You should be able to put them anywhere anyone else is generally allowed to.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Robert,

    Their money was already taken.

    Their money? I will believe than when they file a 1040.

    What other choice are they provided with as a way to get some of it back?

    They can increase their deductions in their W4 - IF they pay taxes (which I highly doubt.)

  • Old Mexican||

    Under the current policy, both "political" and "religious" groups are ineligible for funding.

    So do without the funding, if it comes with strings attached. Do a raffle.

    Northern Illinois University's Student Association Senate denied recognition to the school's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), which means it may not post flyers or meet on campus.

    So post flyers have meetings OFF campus. Rent a place nearby, or place a stand like Lucy Van Pelt's.

    Be more imaginative than your bureaucratic adversaries.

  • ||

    So since there are other ways to run an organization, the school shouldn't be required to adhere to the first amendment. Good to know where you stand.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I just hope OM isn't relying the 5-cent psychiatric consult.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Considering the group, maybe a $5 bong swat.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Andrew S.

    So since there are other ways to run an organization, the school shouldn't be required to adhere to the first amendment.

    The school shouldn't be public in the first place. One does not have a right to a venue, a pulpit or a soapbox, only to your property, your life and your freedom to act.

  • Gibby||

    One can meet at any Starbucks for the price of a latte.

  • Scooby||

    Religious groups are inelligible for funding, but the Baha'i Club is receiving funding?

  • Robert||

    The lists of "religious" and "not religious" clubs is a head scratcher, just like the "political" and "not political" ones. I think they deliberately adopt language such that nothing can be objectively proven, just so they can then bestow favor or disfavor based on whether they like your face, or whose friends they have in common, etc.

  • Abdul||

    I don't know if this is part of the issue, but there is a law about using federal education funds to subsidize political activism. For example, Professor Johan Von Democrat gets a grant to study social interaction, spends the money on "End the Bush Tax Cuts" t-shirts, and hires a bus to Congress so his research subjects can march around.

    At the root of it, this makes sense. Why should one government branch fund the lobbying of the other when the money could be wasted in more conventional ways.

    In my university, the Coalition for Choice recieved money each year from a student activity fund, some of which came from Government sources. In order to hire a bus for a big DC Choice rally, they had to use $1,000 from their allotment to throw a party for which they charged admission, and then use the laundered proceeds for the rally. They did this each year and nearly always broke even on the party.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    You know, many people use fraternities as jokes and think they are a bunch of drunks (while often true they still beat the all mens average at almost every univeristy) but often (not always) they get by without ANY public assistance. Sometimes they are coerced into dealing with the University but since 1824, social fraternities have been a pain in University Admin ass...makes me proud to be a Chi Phi.

  • Jeremy Orbach||

    I just want to make one statement to all those following this story. We do not lobby as NIU SSDP, nor do we tell anyone to lobby under NIU SSDP. NIU SSDP purely exists to encourage people to get involved with the political process and begin speaking out where they see issue. We have never told anyone directly to support medical marijuana, nor do you have to have any sort of views when you join us.

    We are similar to an anti-war group, in that we see the War on Drugs being a complete and total failure. To attend our meetings, all you need to do is show up with an open mind.

    Jeremy Orbach
    NIU SSDP President and Founder

  • Bill||

    Apparently, you should. Advocacy groups are fine, right. Put the word advocacy in your name, that will work.

  • han||

    I think with all the fear and blatant disrespect towards the SA Senate

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