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Chicago State U. Orders a Faculty Blog to Shut Down

A blog written by Chicago State University faculty members that has criticized the institution’s administration was sent a “cease and desist” letter by the university’s lawyer on Monday, deepening a rift between a group of professors and administrators, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Philip A. Beverly, an associate professor of political science, said he had founded the site to “shine the light of day” on administrators’ policy making and to “put into the public sphere what is happening in the name of the citizens of Illinois.” About eight faculty members contribute to the site, he said, some under pseudonyms.

The cease-and-desist letter came from Patrick B. Cage, the university’s general counsel and vice president for labor and legal affairs. Mr. Cage said the site had used university “trade names and marks” without permission and violated policies “requiring civility and professionalism of all university faculty members.” He demanded that site administrators “immediately disable” the blog and provide written confirmation of that no later than Friday to “avoid legal action.”

The website had featured a picture of a campus sign and “CSU” hedge sculpture. But by Monday evening, Mr. Beverly had changed the site’s title to “Crony State University” and replaced its main image with a building from another campus. He also said he was consulting a lawyer.

In a previous clash over image and trademark issues, Chicago State told faculty and staff members in 2012 that employees needed to get prior approval for any news-media interviews, opinion pieces, newsletters, social media, or other types of communications. The university later suspended that policy, pending further review.

A Chicago State spokesman told the Tribune on Monday that faculty members were free to blog but could not present themselves as authorized representatives of the university if they were not.

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