February 25, 2009
By Nathan Harmon
Senator Larry Bomke introduced a bill to the Illinois Senate on Jan. 30 that would prohibit every public or private university in Illinois from employing those who have carried out acts of violence against the state of Illinois or the United States of America.
“I learned that a University of Illinois-employed individual has been involved with the Weather Underground and has been known for bombing public places,” Bomke said.
Bomke’s concern with university professors who had committed acts of violence against the state is “the propaganda they might promote- that it is ok to bomb public places without consequences.”
“I was outraged when I learned that a former terrorist individual [admitted] that they were a terrorist with no apparent remorse and they teach at a university,” Bomke said.
According to Bomke, this “individual” that was part of the Weather Underground wrote in a memoir that he was “Guilty as hell, free as a bird,” and that he admitted to bombing the Capitol, Pentagon, and police stations.
The University of Illinois opposes this bill, according to Tom Hardy, the Executive Director of University Relations.
Calling this bill the “Ayers Bill,” a reference to Bill Ayers, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor, Hardy said that the legislation “seems to broadly worded,” in that it makes the definition of an act of violence against the state or country open to broad interpretation.
Also, according to Hardy, this bill is aimed solely at university employees but not all state employees. The University has concerns over the constitutionality of this bill as well, Hardy said.
“Ayers does his job well as a professor of education,” he added said.
Hardy disagrees that Bomke’s concern of “propaganda” being espoused by people like Ayers is valid even in Ayers’ case. According to Hardy, Professor Ayers has never used his classroom as a propaganda tool. “There has never, never been any indication that Professor Ayers has done anything like that in his classroom,” Hardy mentioned.
He also said that Professor Ayers was never convicted of a crime, even though he is publicly known for activities in the Weather Underground in the 1960s and 1970s. Ayers has been on the faculty at UIC since 1987.
“There are pressing issues for the State of Illinois, and I’m not sure this is one of them,” said Pat Langley, a University of Illinois at Springfield professor.