Thursday, April 17, 2003

Academic freedom means whatever I say it means is leading the defense on an attack on academic freedom at the University of California. Major sections of the code are removed which counsel faculty against proselytizing students. The university argues that these are covered by other sections. This is fundamentally disturbing news; I would ask people to read the 1940 AAUP Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure to see how the academy has usually viewed classroom speech. Section (c) on academic freedom reads in full
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.
See also the fifth element of their Statement on Ethics:
5. As members of their community, professors have the rights and obligations of other citizens. Professors measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of their responsibilities to their subject, to their students, to their profession, and to their institution. When they speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university. As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, professors have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.
How far we've come. Go here to find out what you can do to stop this erosion of academic freedom from the new tyranny on our campuses.