A Victory for Academic Freedom at DePauw · 20 May 2004

The trouble began when Jeanette Johnson-Licon, Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University, sent an email to several campus cultural groups attacking the leadership of the College Republicans for inviting David Horowitz to speak on campus.

"I'm feeling anger and frustration that CR has chosen to end their programming year by writing a check to David Horowitz," she wrote. "It's a waste of my precious time and energy to feel anything but irritation for hate-mongers like Horowitz. Stupidity bores me."

In explicit violation of her role as a campus administrator (one dedicated to multiculturalism, no less) Johnson-Licon went on to state that the College Republican's actions have so offended her that she will be unlikely to cooperate with their organization in the future. "What I will do is remember this moment, especially the next time that CR expects me to be generous and accommodating," she stated.

While Johnson-Licon forwarded her email to several campus cultural groups including the Association of African-American Students and the Committee for Latino Concerns, she failed to include the College Republicans, the subject of the email, in her mailing. The CR's only discovered her angry missive when it was forwarded to them by a third party.

Incensed by this outrageously partisan behavior from an administration figure, the DePauw students leapt into action, putting together a press release with the aid of SAF and the Indiana College Republicans, demanding a public apology and asking the school to consider adopting the Academic Bill of Rights.

"As the Director of Multicultural Affairs, Ms. Johnson-Licon should take an active role in increasing intellectual diversity on campus. Instead, she has made it clear that conservative views are not welcome," stated Carl Heck, State Chairman of the Indiana College Republicans. "I respectfully request a public apology from Ms. Johnson-Licon addressed to the student body of DePauw University, the DePauw University College Republicans, and to David Horowitz. I would also ask that the university look into the bias presented by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and consider adopting the Academic Bill of Rights."

Faced with negative publicity, DePauw Director of Media Relations Ken Owen responded almost immediately with a letter to David Horowitz clarifying that the views expressed by Johnson-Licon were hers alone and did not represent the University. "I should realize that travel problems forced you to cancel your visit to campus, but should you and the College Republicans be able to work out another time for a DePauw speech, the University will welcome you."

Johnson-Licon also apologized to both the College Republicans and David Horowitz and admitted that her behavior fell far short of what professional obligations warranted.

"By now it's public knowledge that what I read made me very angry and I regret that I reacted in a childish and inappropriate way by emailing some of the students with whom I work to explain why I would not attend your convocation," she explained. "I made some ill conceived and sweeping remarks about the College Republicans which I deeply regret."

You can read both of these emails in full and David Horowitz's responses on the SAF website here .

In the wake of Johnson-Licon's partisan discrimination, the College Republicans were able to secure a meeting with the University President at which they urged him to consider adopting the Academic Bill of Rights. They are hopeful that this unfortunate incident will spark a continuing dialogue about the need for the Bill's protections to ensure that all students, regardless of their political or religious beliefs, are granted the same rights and respect on DePauw's campus.

If an incident such as this happens on your campus, please don't let it go unchallenged. We can help you to create a Students for Academic Freedom chapter on your campus to demand that your university include intellectual diversity in their diversity statement and adopt the Academic Bill of Rights. Contact our national office at 202-969-2467 or at Sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org and we'll help to bring the academic freedom campaign to your campus.

Yours in Freedom,

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom