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Harris introduces Campus Demonstration Act

harris campus demonstr introSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) introduced legislation that protects college students’ freedom of speech and would prohibit colleges from revoking athletic and academic scholarships as a result of protesting.

Senate Bill 2279 came about after Republican lawmakers in Missouri filed legislation intended to punish African American football players who demanded the resignation of the head of the university after inaction against racism on campus.

“Universities should remain strongholds for progress and freedom of speech,” said Harris, a former Northwestern University football player. “Students shouldn’t be treated like property for earning scholarships. I want to make sure it’s clear that students’ rights are a high priority in Illinois.”

Harris noted that many students on athletic and academic scholarships come from low-income backgrounds and depend on their scholarships as their only means to a college education.

“Legislation like what was introduced in Missouri is unconstitutional,” Harris said. “All students have the right to have their voices heard and no administration should be given the authority to silence them. I want to shut this down before anyone gets any dumb ideas here.”

Harris: Education funding reform is a priority

harris mr 110115Senate President John Cullerton addressed the Chicago City Club today. Cullerton’s speech focused on education funding reform as a priority for legislature. State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) reacted to the speech with the following:

“Affording children a quality education has been one of my priorities since becoming a state senator. I applaud President Cullerton for focusing on the issue in his City Club speech today. I’m currently working with Senator Andy Manar to produce legislation that would secure a fair, adequate and well-funded education for all children,” State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) said. “Our education funding formula doesn’t work, and it’s hurting the poorest kids in our state. We can’t continue to ignore this issue. Our state’s future is at stake.”

Sen. Harris takes steps to create greater transparency in government (VIDEO)

harris recall presserSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) announced Wednesday his intent to file legislation that will allow Illinois citizens to recall elected officials statewide.

“The purpose of this legislation is transparency and accountability,” said Harris. “We must hold our elected officials to a higher standard. If people decide they have lost trust in their elected officials, they should have the power to recall them.”

With the recent ill handling of the Laquan McDonald case and public outrage toward Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Harris said he was disturbed by the way things unfolded.

Senator Harris seeks to protect student athletes’ rights

harris eqecopSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Napoleon Harris announced Wednesday he plans to pursue legislation to protect student athletes’ freedom of speech and make sure they aren’t punished academically or economically for taking a stand.

Harris’ interest in drafting Illinois protections follows news out of Missouri that Republican lawmakers want to crack down on African American football players who protested racial unrest on campus by refusing to play until the head of the university stepped down.

“I want to make sure our universities remain bastions of free speech and personal growth,” said Harris, a Harvey Democrat and former professional football player who starred at Northwestern University. “What was being discussed in Missouri is blatantly unconstitutional and treats students like they are property. I want to send a message that protects students’ rights before anyone gets any dumb ideas here.”

Last week, a Republican state representative in Missouri filed legislation that would strip student athletes of their scholarships if they refused to play for any reason other than health. Coaches could also be fined for supporting student protests.

Harris stressed that many student athletes come from disadvantaged backgrounds and their athletic scholarships allow them access to higher education. It would be legally, socially and morally wrong to use those scholarships to silence student concerns. 

“Athletes are not employees of the university,” Harris said. “In fact, in many programs they bring in substantial revenue to universities, yet they do not reap the benefits. Nonetheless, they are still members of a civic society who have rights to speak out against what they see as wrong. I believe these students and student athletes have the right to engage in these discussions without fear of unjust action.

Sen. Napoleon B. Harris III

harris 150

Majority Caucus Whip
15th Legislative District

Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Executive; Human Services; Insurance (Chairperson); Telecommunications & InfoTechnology (Vice-Chairperson); Supplier Diversity, Special Com. On; Pension Investments Special Com. On..

Biography: Entrepreneur and legislator; from Dixmoor; B.A. in Communications, Northwestern University; Postgraduate certificate, Northwestern Kellogg School of Business Management; former NFL linebacker; married (wife, Nicole); three children (sons, Napoleon Harris IV, Noah & daughter, Nahla).

Associated Representatives:
William Davis
Thaddeus Jones