After SSDP’s chapter at Northern Illinois University was denied recognition as an official group on campus and told that they could not apply for funding, hold meetings on campus or even post flyers promoting events or causes, they took action to protect student free speech. It wasn’t an easy battle, but SSDP prevailed and have been given full recognition by NIU.
Northern Illinois University (NIU) has finally given full recognition to NIU Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) after the Student Association Senate twice denied the group any recognition, which had prevented SSDP from meeting or posting flyers on campus. But Senate policy still denies funding to all “political” and “religious” student organizations. This arbitrary standard classifies Christian, Muslim, and Jewish organizations as “religious” and therefore ineligible for funding, while the campus Baha’i Club is funded as a “cultural” group. Similarly, groups such as Model United Nations are considered “political” while many “social justice” or “advocacy” groups—including student pro-life, pro-choice, antiwar, women’s rights, vegetarian, and victims’ rights groups—are fully recognized. SSDP came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help.
“FIRE commends Northern Illinois University for finally agreeing to recognize Students for Sensible Drug Policy, but NIU’s recognition and funding policies still violate students’ First Amendment rights,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “NIU’s rules brazenly flout Supreme Court precedent by discriminating against all ‘political’ and ‘religious’ groups. NIU needs to reform its policies to ones that do not invite such extensive double standards, confusion, and abuse.”
SSDP would like to thank the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and our board member Eric Sterling for the essential assistance and guidance they provided to the NIU SSDP chapter.
We also recognize that the situation at NIU is not over. SSDP was instrumental in drawing attention to the unconstitutional policies being unfairly imposed on student groups by the NIU Student Senate and we hope to see those policies changed immediately so that no student group will be discriminated against based on the nature of what they discuss or promote.