Reaffirmation of Academic Freedom

AS-2675-04/FA - November 11-12, 2004


RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University (CSU) strongly reaffirm its commitment to upholding and preserving the principles of academic freedom as stated in AS-2649-04/FA and as contained in the 1940 Association of University Professors (AAUP) Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure with the 1970 Interpretive Comments; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU oppose any attempt, made in the name of academic freedom, to quell open discussion of controversial material in the classroom and reaffirm the AAUP March 4, 2004, statement on "Controversy in the Classroom" including the statement "that instructors should avoid the persistent intrusion of matter, controversial or not, that has no bearing on the subject of instruction"; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU oppose SB 5, presented as a "Student Bill of Rights" (the Morrow bill), on the grounds that this legislation erodes the role of faculty in determining curriculum (Papers and Policies of the CSU, and HEERA); and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU affirm that these principles reflect the University's fundamental mission to discover knowledge and to disseminate knowledge to its students and the society at large; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU reaffirm that it is the faculty who have primary responsibility for and jurisdiction over establishing hiring criteria for faculty positions; that these criteria must derive exclusively from the professional standards set forth by scholarly/professional organizations and by campus faculty (according to the shared governance processes of the University); and that conditions of hiring never include reference to an individual's political and/or religious affiliations; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU urge the university and its campuses to foster and honor the free speech rights embedded in the United States Constitution, California Constitution and contractual agreements between university employees and the CSU, and ensure that guests on any campus have full opportunity to appropriate exercise of these rights; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU urge that the CSU and local campus senates undertake a substantive review of existing campus policies for the protection of freedom of inquiry, research, expression and teaching both inside and beyond the classroom and forward relevant policies to the Academic Senate CSU, along with findings and recommendations based upon their campus review, no later than March 15, 2005; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU send this resolution to the Chancellor, the CSU Board of Trustees, CSU Presidents, CFA Board, and chairs of the Senate Education Committee and Assembly Higher Education Committee in the California Legislature.

RATIONALE: Academic freedom is essential to the search for truth, knowledge and understanding-the pillar of a university's fundamental mission of discovery and advancement of knowledge and its dissemination to students and the public. Recent events, including the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act authorizing the tracking of certain public library books and the monitoring of electronic communications has greatly chilled the extent to which members of the academic community are willing to freely and openly express their thoughts, opinions, writings or research, fearful of repercussions. Specifically, the recent controversy concerning the appearance of a prominent filmmaker at CSU San Marcos demonstrates the need to clearly articulate and reaffirm the academy's commitment to academic freedom. The quelling of discussions that are contentious under the guise of a "balanced" approach to controversial issues is antithetical to the function of the university; any such restrictions on freedom to teach, conduct research, publish, and express points of view create obstacles to fulfilling the mission of the university. Only when universities protect academic freedom and foster the free exchange of ideas can they effectively fulfill their mission of providing high quality educations to the students and to the public.

APPROVED UNANIMOUSLY - January 20-21, 2005

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