Monthly Update from the Academic Freedom Alliance
Dear AFA Members and Friends,
We hope everyone is enjoying their fall semesters. We’ve had another busy month at the AFA. Below are some of our activities since our last update.
Statement on NYU Controversy:
- On October 14, the AFA released a statement on NYU’s refusal to rehire Professor Maitland Jones after students complained about his tough grading practices.
- From the Statement: “If grading is done pursuant to an honest evaluation, sanctioning a professor for grading too rigorously amounts to punishing him or her for being truthful about the quality of the students’ work—that is, punishing the instructor for fulfilling the institutional and fiduciary duty to honestly pursue truth. … NYU’s decision, including the haste and summary manner in which it was reached, appears to be another example of the trend in higher education to devolve more academic authority from faculty into the hands of administrative entities whose backgrounds and expertise reside elsewhere than pedagogy, research, and the pursuit of truth.”
- Read a writeup about the statement from the AFA’s Keith Whittington in Reason.
- We sent out a new round of invitations for AFA membership based on nominations received. So far, we have added 17 new members since our last update, bringing our total membership to 675 faculty from all across the United States. Our full list of members is available on our website.
- Rolling Invitations: We are always accepting nominations for new members from our existing membership. If you would like to nominate someone, please email Howard Muncy, the AFA’s Director of Operations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- This month we sat down with Amna Khalid and Jeffrey Snyder of Carlton College for the latest edition of our interview series. The pair has studied and written extensively on threats to academic freedom. They shared a range of insights and updates on their work, including their new project “Anti-CRT Bills Come to Campus.”
- From our Interview: AK & JS: “The state of academic freedom is more precarious than it’s been since the McCarthy era. While we have been heartened to see growing awareness among the professoriate, navigating and responding to the wide array of threats to academic freedom will require enormous energy and commitment. That’s why organizations like AFA are so vital at this moment. There is definitely strength in numbers when it comes to academic freedom controversies.”
- We’d like to make our members aware of several efforts to promote academic freedom from outside the AFA, including events that will feature AFA members as speakers.
- Event at Stanford: Stanford is hosting an Academic Freedom Conference next week, November 4th – 5th, with registration (including livestream) open to the public. Several speakers are AFA members.
- Declaration: Accompanying the Stanford event, an interdisciplinary group of faculty concerned about the state of academic freedom are circulating an Academic Freedom Declaration. They call for university leaders to restore academic freedom by embracing and implementing the Chicago principles. If any faculty would like to join the declaration, you can do so by filling out this form.
- Event at Princeton: The Free Speech Initiative run out of the James Madison Program at Princeton is hosting several key figures, including AFA members Amna Khalid, John Tomasi, and Paul Clement, for an all day event on November 11th to discuss academic freedom and the Kalven Report. The first two panels are open to the public, with no registration required.