Friday, October 22, 2010

Chamorro Language Forum and Mini-Hatch Act

Professor: students' freedom of speech violated
Posted: Oct 22, 2010 4:22 PM
by Lannie Walker

Guam - A professor at the University of Guam is saying students' rights to free speech may have been violated. Professor of Chamorro Studies Peter Onedera says he has held Chamorro language senatorial and gubernatorial forums since 1998, inviting candidates from all parties to participate.

As part of the exercise students are asked to acquire political signs and posters of the participants to be displayed in the hall way of the lecture hall where the forums are held. "For the first time ever during this forum our acting associate dean on Wednesday - mind you, this is Wednesday after the forum had taken place on Tuesday - told me that the posters had to come down because it is in violation of the Mini-Hatch Act," he said.

The Mini-Hatch Act prohibits the solicitation of political candidates by government employees. Onedera says no candidates were being endorsed and says he feels he is being singled out.

KUAM News spoke with dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dr. James Sellman, who ordered the signs be taken down. He says he was erring on the side of caution and that the signs were left up when the forums were not in process. Sellman adds he does encourage the political debates.

Onedera tells us he has written to UOG president Dr. Robert Underwood about the matter but has not yet received a reply.

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