AFA Sends Letter to LSU Defending Prof. Robert Mann

Dec 11, 2021 | Press Release

AFA Sends Letter to LSU Defending Prof. Robert Mann

Louisiana AG called on Prof. Mann to be disciplined for tweeting criticisms

PRINCETON, NJ – The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) today sent a letter to LSU president William Tate IV in defense of the academic freedom rights of Professor Robert Mann. Professor Mann posted on Twitter that Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry was “sending some flunkie to the LSU Faculty Senate meeting to read a letter attacking covid vaccines.” The next day, the attorney general used his official twitter account to criticize Professor Mann’s tweet and announce that he had spoken to President Tate and “expressed my disdain and expectation for accountability” and that he hopes “LSU takes appropriate action soon.”

“I write on behalf of the Academic Freedom Alliance to express our firm view that Professor Mann should suffer no formal consequences as the result of this social media post,” wrote Keith Whittington, chair of the AFA’s academic committee, in the letter to President Tate. “Regardless of what one thinks about Professor Mann’s tweet, the only appropriate action that LSU should take in this situation is to publicly reaffirm the free speech rights of the members of its faculty. Social media posts are a form of what the American Association of University Professors calls ‘extramural speech.’ Extramural speech is a protected form of freedom of expression.”

“Attorney General Landry is perfectly free to express his own disagreements with Professor Mann’s tweet,” Whittington continued, but the attorney general went well beyond voicing disagreement when he used his position as a public official to pressure a state university to take action against member of the faculty. That is a line that he should not have crossed, and the university has a responsibility to stand up to such pressure.”


    The Academic Freedom Alliance is a diverse alliance of college and university faculty members who are dedicated to upholding the principles of academic freedom and professorial free speech. These principles are central to the mission of our institutions of higher education for the pursuit of truth and knowledge. The AFA is committed to defending universal principles of academic freedom and will come to the assistance of professors regardless of their individual views. The Academic Freedom Alliance itself takes no position on the merits of the substantive content of faculty speech or writing.

    Learn More About the Academic Freedom Alliance

    No one, at any academic institution, should fear suppression or retaliation for speaking out publicly in any form. We encourage you to join the movement in supporting the flourishing of intellectual life and the pursuit of knowledge and truth at institutions of higher learning.