Recently, the Southern Illinois University Athletics Department banned any kind of displays of activism while players are in their uniforms. The change to SIU’s athletic code of conduct comes after three cheerleaders knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality.

The below statement can be attributed to Ed Yohnka, Director of Communications and Public Policy, ACLU of Illinois: 

“Southern Illinois University’s new policy suggesting that players or cheerleaders could be removed from their respective program for peaceful ‘displays of activism’ falls short of the critical responsibility of a public university to honor and protect free speech rights for their students. It is more troubling that the policy specifically suggests that such displays will not be tolerated on ‘a political issue.’
A central purpose for any public university is to engage students and the community in the issues of our time. Schools should not threaten students – or hide them away – because they engage in protests that some in the community may not agree with. SIU administrators should act immediately to reverse these new restrictive policies and welcome a full, vocal debate on all issues on the campus.”