(Cory Davenport with RiverBender.com)

Illinois college board chairman responds to comments about investigation over 'anti-Muslim, racist, anti-immigrant' Facebook posts

Some of the posts include calling Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who is Muslim, a "snake" who is "asking for Muslims to raise hell."

May 09, 2019 - 4:34 pm
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GODFREY, Ill. (KMOX) — The recently elected chairman of the board of trustees for Lewis and Clark Community College has responded to remarks demanding he should resign from his position after sharing Islamophobic, racist and anti-immigrant posts on Facebook.

David Heyen assumed his position on the board April 30, 2019. On May 1, screenshots from a Facebook account attributed to David Heyen came to the attention of the Riverbender and LCCC.

(Screenshots compiled by CAIR-Missouri)
Some of the posts include calling Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who is Muslim, a "snake" who is "asking for Muslims to raise hell." 

Heyen never responded to the Riverbender when asked for comments regarding the posts. However, in a statement sent to KSDK Thursday, Heyen said he shared “some posts in order to generate conversation.”

I am relatively new to the concept of social media. I did share some posts in order to generate conversation about various topics on my personal Facebook page. 

This wasn't done in my official capacity as an LCCC Trustee. This now being used as a distraction by a small faction of people who are not happy that I have asked tough questions as a Trustee and sought to hold the administration accountable and provide more transparency in the spending of our tax dollars. 

Despite these attempts by this small faction to distract the public, our board will continue on in our efforts to bring an unprecedented amount of fiscal transparency to LCCC, and support the efforts of the administration to make LCCC the best community college in the state, providing top notch education and job training to our students while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of the district. 

Lewis and Clark faces some very real challenges. We have over $130 million in long term debt, enrollment is declining by an alarming rate, we pay salaries that are among the highest in the entire state of Illinois and have paid outside consultants millions of dollars in no bid contracts that have personal ties to our administration among many other things. 

Some would seek to distract our board from asking tough questions and getting answers the taxpayers deserve. We refuse to be distracted.

The Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for Heyen’s resignation Thursday.

“Anyone who shares such anti-Muslim, racist and anti-immigrant views has no business serving in a leadership position for any educational institution. Chairman Heyen should resign from his post,” CAIR-Missouri Executive Director Faizan Syed said in a release. “We urge Lewis & Clark Community College to thoroughly investigate this matter and ensure that the college remains a welcoming place for all of its students.”

CAIR is asking people of all faiths to come out to the Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, May 14 in the Trimpe ATC building of LCCC's Godfrey campus. Local advocates are organizing a "Muslim Solidarity Rally" for that evening on the Godfrey campus.

The LCCC faculty association is also calling for Heyen’s resignation now, according to KDSK:

The views expressed by Lewis and Clark Board Chair David Heyen are abhorrent to the Lewis and Clark Faculty Association. Ours is a culture of respect and inclusivity, and we reject completely and without reservation, any rhetoric which would make any of our students feel unwelcome. We serve a diverse community and population. We have a student body that is dynamic and insightful. We want all of them, as well as their families, to know, publicly, that we welcome each and every one of them.

As such, we believe Mr. Heyen is incapable of functioning as an effective leader of our college. While he has every right to his opinions, such views are in direct conflict with our values as faculty. We repudiate them entirely. Mr. Heyen made a statement to the media admitting that he shared these posts on his Facebook page “to generate conversation about important topics,” yet the comments were not only hateful, but patently false. This incident has been a distraction from our mission of educating students. We all want to put it behind us. Therefore, we urge Mr. Heyen to resign, not only as chairman, but also from the Board of Trustees itself.

LCCC said they are "looking into this issue" in a statement sent to the Riverbender by LCCC Vice President of Administration, Lori Artis:

Lewis and Clark first was notified May 1 of a Facebook profile for “David Heyen,” and subsequent public posts that were labeled as “concerning” by those who brought it to our attention. David Heyen is the new board chairman of Lewis and Clark's elected Board of Trustees, who was seated on Tuesday, April 30. We are looking into this issue just as we would look into any alleged conduct of a student, employee, board member, visitor or contractor. The college has a long history of its commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all stakeholders of the college, including students, employees and visitors. Lewis and Clark remains committed to modeling our core values of service, respect, responsibility, compassion and integrity.

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