Academic Freedom Policy


AS-3276-16/FA (Rev)


ATTACHMENT 1 TO AS-3276-16/FA (Rev)
ATTACHMENT 2 TO AS-3276-16/FA (Rev)
ATTACHMENT 3 TO AS-3276-16/FA (Rev)


RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU) reaffirm its strong commitment and constitutional responsibility, “to advance the principles of academic freedom and freedom of inquiry…”1 and be it further


RESOLVED: That the ASCSU approve the attached policy on academic freedom as drafted by the ASCSU Faculty Affairs Committee following long and thoughtful discussions with the CSU faculty, the California Faculty Association (CFA), and the CSU administration; and be it further


RESOLVED: That the ASCSU urge the California State University (CSU) to adopt the attached recommended2 policy as a model for a comprehensive and updated document to enhance the university’s mission of educating students and serving society by discovering, creating, and preserving knowledge; and be it further


RESOLVED: That the ASCSU distribute this resolution to the CSU Board of Trustees, CSU Chancellor, CSU General Counsel, CSU campus Presidents, CSU campus Senate Chairs, CSU campus Senate Executive Committees, CSU Provosts/Vice Presidents of Academic Affairs, California Faculty Association (CFA), California State Student Association (CSSA), CSU Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association (CSUERFA), Academic Senate for the California Community Colleges (CCC), Academic Senate of the University of California (UC), CCC Board of Governors, and the UC Board of Regents.


RATIONALE: Since its inception in 1963 the ASCSU has been active in defending and promoting the academic freedom of the CSU community.  In 2012, following long discussions and negotiations with the CSU Office of the Chancellor, the ASCSU was able to gain the support and approval of the CSU Board of Trustees for an amendment to the ASCSU Constitution, which would add to the responsibilities of the senate the following: to “advance the principles of academic freedom and freedom of inquiry….”3


In contrast to the ASCSU rigorous discussions and actions to protect the university against continuous challenges to academic freedom from different quarters, the administration has insisted on holding on to an outdated and incomplete policy approved by the Board of Trustees in 1971.4


In January 2015 the ASCSU approved a resolution to request that “the Chancellor’s Office and the Board of Trustees draft a comprehensive CSU policy on academic freedom in collaboration with ASCSU faculty representatives.”5 For inclusion in the new policy, the ASCSU recommended a list of main principles of academic freedom as developed and implemented by the AAUP6 and major universities.7 Following long discussions and months of legal arguments, the CSU Office of General Counsel informed the ASCSU that the issue of academic freedom is in the scope of bargaining, and in the absence of a formal CFA relinquishment of its collective bargaining rights on academic freedom the administration will not join the representatives of the ASCSU and the CFA to discuss the issue.


On October 11, 2016 the administration sent the ASCU a draft policy8 on academic freedom, developed by the administration with no consultation with the faculty, and asked the ASCSU for input. An examination of the administration’s draft policy reveals imposition of a list of restrictions on academic freedom instead of enhancement of this core value of higher education. The draft imposes restrictions on the faculty’s academic freedom long recognized by the AAUP and implemented by major universities, including the freedom to discuss “controversial”9 issues and institutional policy or actions.10  It even subjects the freedom of research and publication of the faculty tothe adequate performance of their other academic duties.” It also completely ignores the challenges imposed on academic freedom and freedom of speech by new means of communication and social media.


In sum, this draft policy ignores the recommendations of past ASCSU resolutions, including AS-3197-14/FA (Rev), violates policies on academic freedom developed by the AAUP, and keeps the CSU far behind other major universities in respect to academic freedom.



Approved Unanimously - January 26-27, 2017



1 ASCSU Constitution Article I Section 1(a)


2 Attachment 1


3 ASCSU Constitution Article I Section 1(a)


4 Attachment 2: Board of Trustees Resolution, 1971


5AS-3197-14/FA, “The Need for a Comprehensive California State University Policy on Academic Freedom,” November 5-6, 2014.


6 AAUP statement: “Protecting an Independent Faculty Voice: Academic Freedom after Garcetti v. Ceballos”


7University of Oregon:, University of Wisconsin:, University of Minnesota:, University of California:


8 Attachment 3, Policy on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, 2016.


9 The AAUP’s 1940 “Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” states that “Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching, controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.” In its 1970 interpretation of 1940 statement, the AAUP clarified that “The intent of this statement is not to discourage what is “controversial.” Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster. The passage serves to underscore the need for teachers to avoid persistently including material which has no relation to their subject.”


10 Emphasizing the necessity of academic freedom in an institution of higher education does not dismiss the necessity of faculty’s recognition that membership in the academic profession carries with it special responsibilities. The AAUP’s 2009 “Statement on Professional Ethics,” for example, states “As members of their community, professors have the rights and obligations of other citizens. Professors measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of their responsibilities to their subject, to their students, to their profession, and to their institution. When they speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university. As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, professors have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.”


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