Latest News and Commentary: National

September 30, 2022
By J.D. Tuccille
Reason Magazine

It was probably inevitable that Jonathan Haidt, an academic long concerned about the politicization of academia, would eventually be caught up in the displacement of intellectual inquiry by ideological rigidity.

Last week the New York University (NYU) psychology professor announced that he would resign at the end of the year from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, his primary professional association, because of a newly adopted requirement that everybody presenting research at the group's conferences explain how their submission advances "equity, inclusion, and anti-racism goals." It was the sort of litmus test against which he has warned, and which he sees as corroding institutions of higher learning.

September 30, 2022
By Colleen Flaherty
Inside Higher Ed

Wallace State Community College in Alabama put an instructor of history on leave, according to a CBS42 report about the instructor’s social media comments condemning a local LGBTQ pride event. The instructor, Leigh Ann Courington, reportedly wrote on her Facebook page about the upcoming Cullman Comes Out day, “The devil is attacking our beautiful town of Cullman now apparently … and the police chief is in on it? I heard he was a crazy-ass liberal but this??? We need a rally by the you-know-what to put an end to this foolishness. Of course, it may be as well-attended as the Juneteenth event the white liberal weirdos tried to do a few years ago in Hanceville.”

September 29, 2022
By American Association of University Professors Statement
American Association of University Professors (AAUP)

The University of Idaho administration has abandoned its duty to uphold the mission of the institution and signaled to all the world that the university is no longer committed to academic freedom. As was widely reported, last week faculty at the University of Idaho received “guidance” from the institution’s general counsel which states, among other things, that “faculty or others in charge of classroom topics and discussion” must “remain neutral on the topic [of abortion].”

The new guidance appears to be an incredible overreaction by the administration to a law triggered by last summer’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and a new law banning public funds for abortion. The triggered law bans all abortions in Idaho unless the pregnant person’s life is at risk or if rape or incest has been reported to authorities.

September 29, 2022
By Jonathan Turley
Jonathan Turley Blog

A professor at the University of North Carolina recently sent me an article on a “free speech event” held at the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy as part of the University’s 13th First Amendment Day celebration. What was striking about the free speech panel was not just that it was decidedly opposed to core free speech principles but it lacked a single panelist who spoke primarily in favor of free speech and against censorship.

The panel, “Weaponizing First Amendment Rhetoric,” was clearly designed to offer the opposing view to traditional free speech and First Amendment values, but the lack of a dissenting voices allowed these views to go unchallenged.

September 27, 2022
By FIRE Press Release
Foundation for Individual Rights in Expression

University administrators in Moscow, Idaho, are taking too many notes from the city’s Russian namesake. This mid-sized Idaho city is home to the University of Idaho, where implementation of a state law on abortion is chilling professors’ ability to speak on the topic.

Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression sent a letter to U of I officials warning that the university’s new policy regulating faculty speech about abortion is unconstitutional.

September 26, 2022
By Colleen Flaherty
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: Professors at Southern Connecticut State University are rallying behind a local teacher investigated for sharing a list of terms about race and gender with 10th-grade students. “We urge the Southington Board of Education, and all Connecticut Boards of Education, to resist attempts to divide us, and to stand firmly on the side of academic freedom and free speech in the classroom,” says a letter to the Southington Public Schools board signed by more than 60 Southern Connecticut State professors.

“We reiterate our support for all teachers, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, or creed,” the letter continues. “And we call on Connecticut legislators, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, and the Connecticut public to join us in voicing support for teachers who wish to discuss racism in the classroom.”

September 26, 2022
By John Wilson
The Washington Post

Excerpt: For the past two years, a wave of Republican legislation has sought to restrict the teaching of critical race theory. While K-12 schools receive much of the ire and repression from conservatives, PEN America reports that 39 percent of these “gag rule” bills introduced this year targeted higher education.

Ellen Schrecker, the leading historian of how the McCarthy era affected higher education, has called these bills “worse than McCarthyism” for their attempts to control college teaching. Although this legislation attacking colleges is unprecedented, the distrust on the right toward academic freedom — and universities — isn’t new.

 

September 25, 2022
By Samuel Abrams
National Review

Excerpt: From the enormous debt relief recently enacted by the Biden administration to dangerous changes with respect to transparency and due process in Title IX cases, partisan differences surrounding higher education are significant as the nation heads into the 2022 midterms. But even before the Biden White House began making sweeping changes to how college students and alumni engage with their respective schools, party differences were already potent, with Republicans having far less trust than Democrats in America’s colleges and universities, not to mention the K–12 education system and its teachers

September 23, 2022
By Jonathan Haidt
Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpt: In 2016 I gave a lecture at Duke University: “Two Incompatible Sacred Values in American Universities.” I suggested that the ancient Greek word telos was helpful for understanding the rapid cultural change going on at America’s top universities that began in the fall of 2015. Telos means “the end, goal, or purpose for which an act is done, or at which a profession or institution aims.” The telos of a knife is to cut, the telos of medicine is to heal, and the telos of a university is truth, I suggested. The word (or close cognates) appears on many university crests, and our practices and norms — some stretching back to Plato’s academy — only make sense if you see a university as an institution organized to help scholars get closer to truth using the particular methods of their field.