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ACADEMIC
FREEDOM
and the university

 



the web  
psc-cuny.org

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  BOARD OF TRUSTEES HEARING ON CRUCIAL ACADEMIC FREEDOM ISSUES.  Click here for details on the Monday, January 22, 2007 hearing and the Board's proposed student complaint and computer use policies.  

The PSC has reaffirmed its commitment to academic freedom.  It does so in a period framed by the events of September 11, 2001, by U.S. military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by new government initiatives that have placed limits on civil liberties and intellectual inquiry.  As part of its commitment to academic freedom, the PSC has passed resolutions, created a new Academic Freedom Committee and encouraged other union committees, where it is appropriate to their work, to address these new assaults on civil liberties and intellectual inquiry.

The PSC has also created web pages devoted to academic freedom.  Click on any of the headings below to enter these pages.

The following statement was adopted by the PSC Delegate Assembly at its December 18, 2003 meeting

Academic Freedom consists both in the freedom of the instructor to teach and in that of the student to learn. Both of these are grounded in the premise that freedom of inquiry and the open exchange of ideas are crucial to the well-being of the university, and indeed of the nation.

In its classic “Statement on the Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure” in 1940, the American Association of University Professors held that “Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free expression.” The Statement further held that “Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student to freedom in learning.”

In the name of “national security,” following the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the government has placed the academic freedom and the Constitutional rights of us all at risk. Restrictions on free access to information, the mingling of law enforcement and intelligence gathering, the suspension of due process protections for citizens and aliens alike, and the attempt to stifle dissent have marked this period, threatening the academic freedom of the academic community – students, staff and faculty.

Any restriction on the free expression of ideas, or any threat to such expression, diminishes academic freedom. Removal of instructors, including part-time and non-tenured faculty, without due process protections chills the climate for free speech. Banning student groups or external speakers, or prosecuting students and others for their speech, undermines academic freedom. Surveillance of library borrowing, Internet access and bookstore transactions, and restrictions on access to information, similarly undermines our freedom and violates our Constitutional right to privacy. Denial of visas to students, faculty and researchers from particular countries is contrary to the ideals of an open university and an open society.

Academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas and information are at the heart of a university and the key to creating an environment for learning. Protection of these freedoms must be among our highest priorities. 

Adopted December 18, 2003  

HUNTER COLLEGE ACADEMIC FREEDOM SURVEY:  Click below for:

ACADEMIC FREEDOM UNDER ATTACK AT BROOKLY COLLEGE:  Click here for June 3, 2005 letter from PSC President Barbara Bowen to Chancellor Matthew Goldstein on this issue (and here for special coverage in July 2005 Clarion).

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