Community college board chair under fire for social media posts

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GODFREY, Ill. – There is a call for the chairman of the board of trustees at Lewis and Clark Community College to resign after allegations that he posted offensive material online.

The college president, Dr. Dale Chapman, confirmed Thursday that college administrators were investigating the controversy surrounding Board Chair David Heyen. But one group has seen enough and has called on Heyen to resign from the Board.

“Honestly, these postings are truly awful,” said Faizan Syed, head of the Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Heyen has been a member of the Lewis and Clark Board of Trustees since 2017 and was just elected board chairman.

Syed characterized the multiple postings as racist, anti-immigrant, and Islamophobic. Syed said CAIR is calling for Heyen’s resignation.

“This is a series of really vile posts. I don’t think anybody, any of us, would be comfortable reading about or knowing somebody who holds these types of views,” he said.

CAIR obtained screenshots of the posts made on Heyen’s Facebook page and shared them in a release while calling for his resignation.

Chapman said a fact-finding inquiry is underway to try and confirm if the posts are indeed Heyen’s. He called the material “troubling” and not representative of the culture on campus.

“People have First Amendment rights but he is the board chair and so that creates levels of complication that we want to make sure that we act appropriately,” Chapman said.

Students and others we spoke with called the posts disturbing.

“I feel he was very wrong about what he said. He shouldn’t have said it, especially on his private page because … people are going to look at it eventually and find out about it,” said student Niya Wilson.

The head of the College Diversity Council calls the social media posts a matter of “great concern.”

Mike Lemons, the president of the Faculty Association at Lewis and Clark, released the following statement late Thursday evening:

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.

Fox 2/KPLR 11 reached out to Heyen both by Facebook and through college officials but did not hear back. At this point, we’ve been told Heyen has not stepped down.

The next board meeting is Tuesday evening.

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