Free-speech group sues University of Illinois over policies

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois has become the target of lawsuit claiming the school has violated its students’ free-speech rights.

Virginia-based Speech First filed the lawsuit last week against Illinois in U.S. District Court in Urbana. The News-Gazette in Champaign reports the lawsuit accuses the university of squelching free speech by requiring “prior approval” for posting leaflets. It also claims the university uses practices, including bias response teams that intimidate students into silence.

The lawsuit indicates it was filed following complaints by students it didn’t identify.

Speech First President Nicole Neily, an Illinois graduate, said she was “disappointed” to learn about alleged violations of student free-speech rights and decided it was necessary to take action. Similar lawsuits have been filed by the organization against the University of Texas and University of Michigan.

Illinois spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the university hasn’t received official notice of the lawsuit and will respond appropriately when it does.