Identity of Speakers
Isadore Johnson is an economics major at the University of Connecticut and founder of UConn's Students for Liberty (SFL)
Incident Political Orientation:
- Did not involve Speech Codes
In February, 2021, University of Connecticut (UConn) student Isadore Johnson submitted legislation to the Undergraduate Student Government campaigning for stronger free speech protection at UConn. Johnson called for UConn to adopt the Chicago Statement, a free speech policy statement produced by the Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago. The petition was supported by some UConn students and decried by others, with some arguing that the timing of the bill after multiple acts of hate around campus sought to “undermine the atmosphere (against hate speech) that USG is trying to create.”
The number of bias related-incidents at UConn has increased every year in the past four years, according to WFSB.
In the 2017 UConn’s “Report of the Task Force on Free Speech and Civility,” free speech limitations were discussed and upheld. The report was carried by former UConn President Susan Herbst, and was reaffirmed by current President Thomas Katsouleas. This Report stated that ““bias related incidents, as defined in this protocol, are not tolerated at the University of Connecticut and individuals who are victims of bias related incidents may be protected through the Student Code and Connecticut laws related to discrimination, harassment or intimidation based on bigotry or bias.”
Johnson and his supporters, including student body president Michael Hernández, pulled the legislation after they said that the undergraduate student government violated its own procedures to keep the issue from even being raised for a vote. One committee, Johnson says, went as far as to pack a committee meeting with opponents to keep the statement from being proposed. Hernández’s support of the statement led to the student government approving a vote of no confidence against him as president.
These issue led the UConn administration to step in, sanctioning the student government and appointing an administrative monitor of the organization.