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SDSU Professor Using Campus E-mail to Conduct Anti-Illegal Immigrant Activities

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

San Diego State University officials have asked a biology professor to stop using his campus email to conduct business related to the anti-illegal immigrant group the Minutemen. University officials say using state resources, like university computers, for anything other than occasional personal use violates California law. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has details.

SDSU Professor Stuart Hurlbert used his campus email account to help launch the “Puritan Rush Hour Education Campaign,” whereby Minutemen wave anti-illegal immigrant signs at busy San Diego County intersections during rush hour. Hurlbert’s emails include explanations of the campaign’s objectives. They recruit Minutemen to wave signs. He’s also sent tips on how Minutemen should behave at rallies.

Bonnie Zimmerman is Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs at SDSU. She says her office received a complaint about Hurlbert’s use of campus email and sent him a letter asking him to stop.

Zimmerman: We were not judging the content. We were simply looking at whether it was related to the educational purposes of the University.

Zimmerman says in addition to California law which limits employee’s extracurricular computer use, University policy states campus resources should only be used for purposes related to employment.

Hurlbert says he hasn’t received the letter. But he believes the University may be practicing selective enforcement.

Hurlbert: They’ve got a policy that says one thing. But practice is something else, except if political pressure comes from the outside.

Hurlbert says if you look at faculty’s email outboxes you’d see that notes to Congressman or messages soliciting contributions to charities are routine. Meanwhile, SDSU’s Bonnie Zimmerman says the university has no way to know if Hurlbert will comply with the request to cease and desist, unless they receive another complaint. Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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