To President Kimberly Cline,
The LIU Post Student Government Association has recently been made aware of the situation involving Dean Michael Berthel, Public Relations Director Gordon Tepper, and University Attorney Michael Best and their meeting with Pioneer Editor Jada Butler. The SGA has watched this semester as this administration has strangled its staff and abused its faculty. It sat silent as this administration trampled on the careers of its athletes with the One LIU announcement. It stood as a passive observer when this administration used Ad Astra to wreak havoc on the academic lives of its students. Summoning students under false pretenses only to berate, interrogate, and threaten them is something that we cannot remain silent about. These egregious abuses have forced our hand into action.
Free speech is the pinnacle of Western society. The free exchange of ideas is what has transformed the United States from a hodgepodge of farmers and refugees to the beacon of freedom that leads the world today. More importantly, it is freedom of expression that makes our education so successful. The ability of students and faculty to openly discuss ideas, no matter how controversial or seditious your administration might find those ideas, is the key to unlocking students’ understanding of the world around them. It is what leads to independent thinkers and gives them the creativity and ingenuity to become the benevolent, well- developed leaders and shapers of the world. Our society was created for the purpose of free expression and our society depends on free expression to keep it going. To deny free speech is to oppose the very foundation of the liberal arts education that LIU Post so proudly proclaims to provide its students. To deny free speech is to reject the principles upon which our society is founded. To deny free speech is to condemn the values that people have laid down their lives for throughout centuries of human conflict and continue to die for every day. To deny free speech is to admonish students against every ounce of progress our society has made. Yet your administration has done this over a few critical articles in a student newspaper.
Such injustices against the student body cannot be ignored. The Student Government Association is calling for your administration be held accountable for its actions. To begin to make amends, we demand that Michael Berthel, Gordon Tepper, and Michael Best all make written, public apologies for their actions against Jada Butler. We demand that you also make a written, public apology both to Jada Butler and the LIU student body on behalf of yourself and your administration for what happened and for allowing such abuses to happen at our university. Finally, we demand a written statement from yourself and the Board of Trustees guaranteeing free speech throughout the university for all students, staff, and faculty. We expect these statements both in emails to all students as well as published in the Pioneer for all to see by the last day of Fall semester classes, December 10, 2018.
Should sufficient apologies not be made as we have requested and a guarantee of free speech not made, it will be this Student Government Association’s responsibility to use the LIU Post network of students to make the entire country aware of your administration’s abuses. We will write letters to news outlets everywhere from New York to California to let them know what is going on at LIU Post. We will contact politicians, celebrities, and business people across the nation to inform them of how your administration is stifling free thought. Every social media outlet will let high school students everywhere know that LIU Post is the place to come only if you do not like thinking for yourself. We will arm ourselves with the First Amendment to bring the scrutiny of the nation down on LIU Post until we are guaranteed freedom of expression and freedom from your administration’s bullying and suppression tactics.
The Student Government Association dearly hopes that you will see the error in your administration’s ways and come around to advocating for the students and not against them, defending your students and not attacking them, and making LIU Post a university that we can feel safe at and not afraid.
We love our university and we will see that it is protected.
The Members of the LIU Post Student Government Association