Apr 27, 2009 ·
Donald Downs ·
Comments Off on Academic Freedom
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.
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’.