Media Contact

April 25, 2024

In light of developments around the country and in Illinois, the ACLU of Illinois today issued the following statement:

The ACLU of Illinois urges campus administrators at both public and private universities and law enforcement across the state to exercise restraint in dismantling student encampments constructed as part of demonstrations. Colleges and universities must resist pressure to restrict or prohibit student protest – even on contentious issues – and adhere to their stated commitment to free speech, peaceful protest, and dissent on campus. 

Institutions of higher learning historically have recognized the importance of protecting a wide range of free speech to further academic inquiry and discussion of public policy matters. In many instances, especially in times of war, protests on campus can be loud, disruptive, and offensive to others. The role of a university is to help students navigate this situation, not to shut down protest. Protest is the most American of actions – a principle entrenched in our history and our First Amendment.  It is important to recognize that all students deserve equal access to education, free from discrimination based on religion, race and ethnicity.  Schools have a responsibility to protect students from discrimination and violence, including acts of violence at the hands of police and campus security.     

Administrators have a responsibility to address those who engage in violent acts or unlawful harassment on campus without closing down peaceful protest.  

This is a critical moment. College and university officials must protect free expression.