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Illini faculty, staff rally for political rights

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In October, the University of Illinois released a statement informing students and faculty that a state ethics law bars state workers from political activities on campus. Students and faculty protested, claiming the university was trampling on their First Amendment rights.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan tried to clarify the matter, saying the law prohibits state employees from doing political work on state time using state resources, but does not apply to students.

But Deputy Inspector General Gilbert Jimenez muddied the waters with a blanket ban: “Anything that benefits a political campaign is prohibited on state property,” Jimenez wrote.

In response to complaints from faculty, University of Illinois President Joseph White said faculty and students could show support for political candidates on campus, as long as they did so on their own time. The university said it had intended merely to apprise students and staff of the law, and to encourage them to “exercise common sense,” the Associated Press reported.

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