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Feature Stories
Money Matters
Family Tree, Oberlin roots
Operation Internship
[cover story] Fury and the Sound
David Rees Gets His (Bleep) On
Around Tappan Square
Alumni Profiles
The Last Word
One More Thing
Inside Oberlin
Staff Box

Alumni Notes


48-Year Law Prof Earns ACLU Honor

University of Illinois law professor Vic Stone '42 has devoted his life to the defense of civil liberties. The ACLU of Illinois awarded him its highest honor, the coveted Roger Baldwin Award, last fall, making Stone just the sixth recipient in the award's 20-year history.

A 55-year champion of First Amendment rights, Stone has amassed an array of career milestones. He founded the ACLU's Champagne County chapter, argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, and defended the rights of a student Communist group at the University of Illinois. In a risky career move as a young UI faculty member in the 1950s, he protested the firing of a professor who had expressed controversial views on premarital sex in the student newspaper. Stone convinced the American Association of University Professors to censure UI, then drafted new statutes on academic freedom that were adopted by the school. He remains active with the AAUP today.

Even at Oberlin, Stone made headlines. As a student member of the Peace and Public Affairs societies, he fought for the admission of an African American student into his racially segregated dormitory. Oberlin's administration denied the request, however, and the attempt failed. Stone refused to become discouraged. "Oberlin was a good place for idealists, and, as a young person, I was an idealist," he says.

His convictions continued into his senior year, when, as a member of the debating team and editor-in-chief of The Oberlin Review, Stone wrote a controversial editorial titled "Declare War Now," which urged America to enter the war in Europe. "It was a sensational thing for someone to say at Oberlin," he says. The article departed from his usual antiwar stance and foreshadowed future situations in which Stone would set aside his personal feelings to fight for the betterment of society. In 1977 he defended the rights of neo-Nazis to march through Skokie, Illinois, recognizing that the rights of free speech extended to even the most extreme political groups.

Today, he makes no secret of his feelings for the Bush administration ("they are whipping up war so they can justify the suppression of civil liberties") and the president's record on civil liberties ("disastrous").

Stone has been teaching at the University of Illinois for a remarkable 48 years, touching the lives of tens of thousands of students. His title now reads professor emeritus, although he continues to teach a seminar on the Supreme Court docket. His collegiate interests have also extended to his alma mater; Stone is a past member of Oberlin's Board of Trustees, a class agent, and member of his reunion gift committee.

Depsite his accomplishments, Stone remains humble. "I have always tried to justify my survival," he says.

­Courtney Mauk '03