Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Faculty Confused by UIS Social Media Policy and Censorship

A+Twitter+feed+from+the+%40UISObservatory+that+was+removed+due+to+Social+Media+policies+%7C+Photo+credit%3A+Twitter.com
A Twitter feed from the @UISObservatory that was removed due to Social Media policies | Photo credit: Twitter.com

The University of Illinois Springfield has removed posts several professors made after the UIS Student Government Association President resigned following his controversial comment. Associate Professor John C. Martin of the Astronomy and Physics Department wrote a Twitter thread that the university decided violated the social media policy and deleted it. The English department posted a statement on Tuesday, March 22, which was removed on Thursday, March 24.

“The administration determined that they were not consistent with the current social media policy,” Martin said.

Dr. Meg Cass spoke of the removal of the statement from the UIS English Department Tenure Line Faculty.

“We were also cited the social media policy as a reason for having our posts taken down. Something troubling within the messages we received from UIS is that the SGA incident was framed as merely a ‘conflict between students.’ This neutral framing erases the cultural and historical context of the incident and denies that xenophobia and racism played a part,” Cass said.

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“I watched the video, and I’ve been very concerned about it. I mean, I thought it was very emotional, and I thought that the students actually stood up for themselves and really did a great job doing that,” Martin said. “I had seen students on the video I knew. Some of my students that I had in class were dealing with this, and so I wanted to make a statement of support.”

Part of the US social media policy reads as follows;

Department accounts must post content that is truthful and best represents the University of Illinois Springfield. Posts found in violation of these guidelines may be deleted by the Office of Campus Relations. Posts that contain hateful, obscene, or defamatory language will be deleted. Posts that depict violence will not be allowed. Posts that target a person based on their race, nationality, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or political beliefs will not be allowed.

Read the policy HERE.

“They basically said that it was personal, that it wasn’t like a department speaking, and it didn’t meet with the kind of message they wanted to send from the campus,” Martin said.

However, while the English department posted a similar statement, it was also removed, even though it did represent the feelings of the entire department.

“I can’t speak for other faculty, but I know for myself, as a queer, trans faculty member, it’s disheartening when an uplifting, positive statement meant to support students from a marginalized group is removed,” Cass said. “Supporting students who have struggled against racism and xenophobia makes for a better learning environment for all students. It brings us together rather than divides us.”

The university held Free Speech for Engaged Citizenship: On Campus & Beyond with speaker Alex Morey on March 1, 2023, for the ECCE program, which covered the censorship and free speech concerns for both students and faculty. This raised questions about whether the university is sending mixed messages on free speech.

“I was kind of surprised by that because we’ve gotten a lot of anti-racist messages here on campus. I am fully behind that; I understand the importance of that.  I see students in the classroom who are dealing with this on a daily basis, and I’m just another cis white guy, and how do I show I’m serious about that? By not just being pro-diversity, but by being anti-racist as well,” Martin said.

“Our statement also speaks to areas within English Studies that UIS students are especially skilled at, using rhetorical strategies, critical thinking, and language to push for a better, more just world,” Cass said.

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