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Academic Freedom and the New Challenges to Faculty Rights

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2017 Annual Meeting of the Council of Sponsoring Institutions
ROBERT SHIBLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
FOUNDATION FOR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Academic Freedom and the New Challenges to Faculty Rights

  1. 1. Academic Freedom and the New Challenges to Faculty Rights FOUNDATION FOR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION ROBERT SHIBLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
  2. 2. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)
  3. 3. FIRE VICTORIES
  4. 4. WHAT IS ACADEMIC FREEDOM?
  5. 5. AAUP’S 1940 DEFINITION • Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution. • Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment. • College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.
  6. 6. FIRE’S GUIDE TO FREE SPEECH ON CAMPUS “Academic Freedom—which one may broadly conceive of as a general recognition that the academy must be free to research, teach, and debate ideas without censorship or outside interference—has proven to be an amorphous concept in practice, but serves nonetheless as a guiding and necessary principle for higher education."
  7. 7. ACADEMIC FREEDOM BEFORE THE COURT
  8. 8. SWEEZY V. NEW HAMPSHIRE (1957) “The essentiality of freedom in the community of American universities is almost self-evident. No one should underestimate the vital role in a democracy that is played by those who guide and train our youth. To impose any strait jacket upon the intellectual leaders in our colleges and universities would imperil the future of our Nation…”
  9. 9. KEYISHIAN V. BOARD OF REGENTS, STATE UNIV. of N.Y. (1967) “Our Nation is deeply committed to safeguarding academic freedom, which is of transcendent value to all of us and not merely to the teachers concerned. That freedom is therefore a special concern of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom.”
  10. 10. GARCETTI V. CEBALLOS “We hold that when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.” “There is some argument that expression related to academic scholarship or classroom instruction implicates additional constitutional interests that are not fully accounted for by this Court’s customary employee-speech jurisprudence. We need not, and for that reason do not, decide whether the analysis we conduct today would apply in the same manner to a case involving speech related to scholarship or teaching.”
  11. 11. Rodriguez v. Maricopa County Cmty. College Dist (9th Circuit, 2010) “To afford academic speech the breathing room that it requires, courts must defer to colleges' decisions to err on the side of academic freedom. Otherwise, schools will inevitably reassess whether hiring a lightning rod like Kehowski—or, for that matter, Larry Summers or Cornel West—is worth the trouble.” “It's easy enough to assert that Kehowski's ideas contribute nothing to academic debate, and that the expression of his point of view does more harm than good. But the First Amendment doesn't allow us to weigh the pros and cons of certain types of speech. Those offended by Kehowski's ideas should engage him in debate or hit the ‘delete’ button when they receive his emails. They may not invoke the power of the government to shut him up.”
  12. 12. THREATS TO ACADEMIC FREEDOM
  13. 13. POLITICAL INTERFERENCE FROM ADMINISTRATORS John C. McAdams, Marquette University
  14. 14. POLITICAL INTERFERENCE FROM ADMINISTRATORS Suzanne Sisley, University of Arizona
  15. 15. POLITICAL INTERFERENCE FROM THE PUBLIC David Guth, University of Kansas
  16. 16. POLITICAL INTERFERENCE FROM TRUSTEES Steven Salaita, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  17. 17. POLITICAL INTERFERENCE FROM FACULTY James Enstrom, UCLA
  18. 18. POLITICAL INTERFERENCE FROM FACULTY Bill Felkner, Rhode Island College
  19. 19. POLITICAL INTERFERENCE FROM POLITICANS • Late last year, Wisconsin state legislators targeted a course called “The Problem of Whiteness,” saying "The state has a lot of different priorities when it comes to funding things. Is funding a course that’s about 'The Problem of Whiteness' ... a high priority? I’ve got a feeling it’s not.” • A lawmaker in Arizona late last year attempted to ban classes and events that “promote[s] division, resentment or social justice toward a race, gender, religion, political affiliation, social class or other class of people.” • A lawmaker in Iowa introduced a bill early this year that would mandate Iowa Public Universities achieve political balance in their faculties, and that Democrat and Republican faculty numbers must be within 10% of each other.
  20. 20. POLITICAL INTERFERENCE FROM STUDENTS Laura Kipnis, Northwestern University
  21. 21. TITLE IX
  22. 22. AAUP’S REPORT ON TITLE IX
  23. 23. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT AND OPEN RECORDS ACT ABUSES
  24. 24. FOIA/OPEN RECORDS ABUSE • In 2014 two students from an LGBT organization at U. Virginia FOIA’d a professor of religious studies whose scholarship they believed was used to justify legislation perceived to be anti- LGBT • In 2011 the Wisconsin Republican Party FOIA’d a history professor after he blogged criticism about a law that reduced the power of public employers • Earlier this year, many of the 1,400 law professors who signed a letter opposing the nomination of Jeff Sessions for AG found themselves subject to an Open Records Act request for their emails
  25. 25. CONCLUSIONS • Attacks can come from across the political spectrum • If you see something, say something • Support your fellow faculty • Don’t hesitate to reach out to FIRE if you or a colleague run into trouble

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