In the last few years, the rights of students in North Carolina universities have received some significant new protections. It is important that state legislators and educators continue to do so, for such rights—pertaining to free speech and due process of punitive proceedings—have been under assault on college campuses nationwide in recent years.
Today’s university is rife with competing claims about academic freedom. Although it is similar to the freedom of speech that all Americans enjoy, academic freedom has developed into a more specific guarantee for scholars and teachers. This new paper by Donald Downs, professor of political science, law, and journalism at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, explains what is meant by the term and to whom it applies.
Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE) says that UNC-CH is infringing on the rights of students and faculty to express themselves.
Free speech had already carried the day when a UNC-Chapel Hill instructor attacked a student by name in a classwide email. So why get the feds involved?
A resounding affirmation of free-speech rights on college campuses was recently made by the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education.
Chancellor Marye Anne Fox of North Carolina State University issued a statement on tolerance this week. Published in Technician, N.C. State’s official student newspaper, Fox wrote that “Several students have told me about highly offensive, hurtful and disrespectful graffiti that appeared on the wall of our Free Expression Tunnel on Monday night.” Three sentences later she wrote, “The offensive graffiti has been removed, and I have asked our Campus Police to investigate this incident.”
“I have been proud,” announced Chancellor James Moeser of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in his “State of the University” speech this past September, “to speak for the entire community in defending our fundamental rights as Americans from any who would seek to limit the scope of free expression and inquiry. In the past 12 months, UNC has shown the world what it is to be a great, free, American public university.”
If the announced concerns of the American Association of University Professors’ special committee to study academic freedom in the wake of Sept. 11 are any indication, look for more rarefied hand-wringing over the academic left’s travails and cricket-chirruping silence over others’.
Controversy continues to swirl around what the University of North Carolina at Wilmington did to a professor for chiding a student’s mass-distributed e-mail as “bad speech.” As well as around what UNCW didn’t do.
A report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni has the establishment-left wing of academe up in arms. “Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America and What Can Be Done About It” builds on the fact that “academe is the only sector of American society that is distinctly divided in its response” to the terrorist attacks on America to reiterate (not to mention, underscore) the organization’s call for trustees, donors and alumni to seek change in their institutions of higher education.