AFA Statement on University of Florida Policy Reversal
AFA applauds university’s decision as a victory for academic freedom
PRINCETON, NJ – Today, the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) issued the below statement on the University of Florida’s announcement that it would reverse its decision to bar three faculty members from providing witness testimony in a case against the state of Florida. The reversal followed two letters sent by the AFA (available here and here) objecting to the university’s earlier positions.
Statement from the AFA: “The Academic Freedom Alliance applauds the University of Florida for heeding our calls to reverse course and support the freedom of its faculty to testify in court without restriction. This reversal represents a victory in the fight for academic freedom and shows the importance of organizing a national response to speech threats whenever and wherever they emerge. The university was right to appoint a Task Force to review the conflict of interest policy that led to the initial decision, and we wish the university well as it undertakes this process. We welcome the university to contact us if we can be of assistance in shaping its policies on academic freedom going forward.”
Background on the AFA’s involvement: On October 31, the AFA sent a letter urging UF President Kent Fuch’s to reverse the university’s position that the professors could not testify due to a conflict of interest policy. In response, the university announced a partial reversal whereby the professors would be allowed to testify only if they did so pro bono and in their capacity as private citizens. The AFA sent a second letter on November 2nd arguing that the partial reversal was an insufficient remedy that still violated the professors’ constitutional rights as established by the Supreme Court.
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.