NOW Home Page
Politics & Economy
Science & Health
Arts & Culture
Society & Community
TV Schedule
For Educators
Topic Index
Talk Back Now
There is no place for hate in today's universities, and any decision like the one made at that university limits the integrity of the American academic system as a whole. Talk back on the boards.

Take the Poll
Is there a limit to free speech on campus?

Admissions Office sign
Politics and Economy:
Academic Freedom After 9/11
More on This Story:
Page 2
History of Academic Freedom

Free speech on has been a hot topic for a number of years. Remember the political correctness (PC) debate? In fact, (F.I.R.E.) Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the organization defending Kenneth Hearlson, was praised by William F. Buckley, Jr. for combating PC tendencies on campus. In the NATIONAL REVIEW Buckley praised F.I.R.E. for fighting the "Orwellian (a necessary word here) appetite in many colleges to instill an altogether unnatural race consciousness to encourage guilt." (NATIONAL REVIEW, April 10, 2001)

In a climate where political dissent is viewed at unpatriotic, it is good to take a brief look back at the history of academic free speech, in law and practice, in the United States.

Noted historian Richard Hofstadter traced tradition of academic freedom in America all the way back to colonial days, and the founding of colleges by religious dissenters (ACADEMIC FREEDOM IN THE AGE OF THE COLLEGE). However, it was a case at the University of Wisconsin in 1894 which really solidified the concept. Richard T. Ely, a proponent of the Social Gospel movement, was accused of "teaching socialist ideas, promoting unions, fomenting boycotts" and dismissed from his position. He was later vindicated when the University stated: "Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone truth can be found." Ely's ordeal led to the founding of the American Association of University Professors and its statement of academic principles.

1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure with 1970 Interpretive Comments

a. 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.

b. 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.

c. 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.

**This document was modified by the AAUP in 1970 to ensure that the text not "discourage what is controversial. Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster."

Read the entire AAUP statement on Academic Freedom.

Read More

Related Stories:

about feedback pledge © Public Affairs Television. All rights reserved.
go to the full archive