Academic freedom threatened most by students, faculty: Report

Feb 11, 2018 by

By Bradford Richardson –

More than a century ago, colleges and universities feared that outside forces such as corporations or state lawmakers would infringe upon academic freedom, but today the threat to free inquiry has shifted to internal campus forces, a report shows.

Politicized student bodies and radicalized faculty have proved more than willing to disregard academic freedom in the name of “academic justice,” as one Harvard student put it. Polls consistently have shown that large pluralities, if not majorities, of students favor restricting speech that is upsetting or offensive.

Image result for Peter Wyatt Wood photos

Peter Wyatt Wood

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, said the biggest threat to academic freedom comes from students and faculty who believe “psychological safety from hearing viewpoints that they disagree with is more important than the ability to articulate arguments or listen to the opposing side in a sober, thoughtful manner.”

“Early on, the great threat to academic freedom perceived by the movers and shakers of higher education was meddlesome trustees, big business and state legislatures who were willing to invade campus with narrow and parochial views and shut down the free speech of academics,” Mr. Wood said. “Most of us think that is no longer the great danger. The great danger is not coming from outside of the university, but from within it.”

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The National Association of Scholars released a report on Feb. 1 documenting changing perceptions of why academic freedom is important and what imperils it.

“Charting Academic Freedom,” written by NAS communications director David Randall, catalogs 14 statements on academic freedom spanning 103 years, beginning with the declaration of principles issued by the American Association of University Professors in 1915 and ending with the statement of principles issued last year by Students for Free Expression.

Source: Academic freedom threatened most by students, faculty: Report – Washington Times

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