June 2024

Jul 2, 2024 | Monthly Newsletter

June Update from the AFA

Successful Resolution of Case at USC

On June 20, we announced the favorable resolution of our case in defense of John Strauss, a professor at the University of Southern California who was accused of harassment by student protestors after he briefly engaged with them at a pro-Palestinian rally on campus. USC dismissed the case against Professor Strauss earlier in June. 

The controversy originated on November 9, 2023, when Professor Strauss engaged in a brief verbal exchange with protestors in a public area on campus. After a video of the encounter was posted online, USC initially asked Strauss to leave campus, though he was later allowed to return. He was then subjected to a lengthy discrimination and harassment investigation.

Lucas Morel, chair of the AFA’s Academic Committee, described the victory this way: “We’re pleased that Professor Strauss has been vindicated and that his rights have been acknowledged. The university rightly found that John had not engaged in harassment and dismissed the complaints against him. The university also acknowledged John’s right to free speech and declined to subject him to discipline. The successful resolution of this case is a victory for academic freedom rights everywhere, particularly during these contentious times on campuses nationwide.”

AFA Wins Climb to 18

Also last month, a private matter in which the AFA was involved was resolved at a California University. Combined with the successful resolution of Professor Strauss’ case, that brings the AFA’s total number of victories since our inception to 18. You can read more about our cases and victories on the public statements page of our website.

Second Annual AFA Conference in Princeton

In June, members of the AFA’s leadership committees and other supporters gathered in Princeton for our second annual AFA conference. We discussed a number of issues related to academic freedom and our work as an organization. We held discussion sessions on several topics, including institutional neutrality and the Kalven Report, the rise of academic freedom groups at individual universities, the use of defamation claims in academic freedom cases, and new scholarly works on academic freedom. 

The latter session, New Scholarly Works on Academic Freedom, featured Cary Nelson, David Rabban, and Keith Whittington, each of whom has published or will soon publish a new book pertaining to academic freedom. We have published an edited transcript of their presentations on our website. We encourage you to read what they have to say about their books and pick up a copy if it interests you. 

Photo: Some of the AFA’s leaders and supporters in Princeton for the AFA Conference
Photo: Some of the AFA’s leaders and supporters in Princeton for the AFA Conference

Membership Update

The AFA welcomed 7 new members in June, bringing our total membership to 872. As always, the AFA continues to accept new members on a rolling basis. Please send any nominations to AFA Director of Operations Howard Muncy at hmuncy@academicfreedom.org.

As we continue to expand our membership and casework, we’re grateful to everyone who has donated to our organization and hope all of our members and friends will consider contributing here. We could not do our work without your support. 

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.