Latest News and Commentary: National

June 2, 2022
By David Steele
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: The percentage of college students who believe the political and social climate on their campus prevents people from freely expressing themselves rose from 54.7 percent in 2019 to 63.5 percent in 2021, according to a new survey conducted by Heterodox Academy.

The survey found that students nonetheless overwhelmingly favor free and open expression among themselves and others on campus, with the percentage of those supporting it rising from 85.4 percent in 2020 to 87.4 percent in 2021.

June 2, 2022
By A. R. Hoffman
New York Sun

Excerpt: In a decision that is set to strike American campuses like a thunderbolt, a trio of appellate judges in the Second Circuit handed professors and others accused of sexual harassment without due process the ability to turn to federal civil rights law as they seek to defend themselves. 

In what is poised to become a classic defense of due process on campus, one of the judges, José Cabranes, thundered in a concurrence that a Cornell professor denied tenure on account of a sexual harassment allegation had faced a system that is the rough equivalent of an “English Star Chamber,” a notorious and unaccountable tribunal that once sat at Westminster.

The judge decried the potential “miscarriages of justice that ensue” that “are matters of life and death for our great universities.” He urged those who run universities to overcome “fear of internal constituencies of the ‘virtuous’ determined to lunge for influence or settle scores against outspoken colleagues.”

June 2, 2022
By Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: The issue: Many colleges and universities require or invite current and/or prospective faculty to demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), often through a written statement that factors into hiring, reappointment, evaluation, promotion, or tenure decisions.

The concerns: Vague or ideologically motivated DEI statement policies can too easily function as litmus tests for adherence to prevailing ideological views on DEI, penalize faculty for holding dissenting opinions on matters of public concern, and “cast a pall of orthodoxy” over the campus.

FIRE is concerned by the proliferation of university policies requiring current or prospective faculty to be evaluated, in part, by their demonstrated commitment to “diversity, equity, and inclusion.

 

June 1, 2022
By Sabrina Conza
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: After Drake University’s student senate denied recognition to a chapter of Turning Point USA for the third time — citing disagreement with certain group members’ views — FIRE wrote to Drake explaining that student groups may not be denied recognition based solely on viewpoint. Although Drake did not respond to FIRE’s letter, its student senators claimed to the media that the senate did not deny TPUSA recognition “based on politics,” but rather due to the perceived “racist and transphobic and homophobic” viewpoints of its student leaders.

 

June 1, 2022
By Michael Roth
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: Americans agree on little these days, but they agree on this: the country is embroiled in a culture war.

How should colleges and universities in the United States respond? Faced with culture war, they should practice culture peace by defending their missions and their most vulnerable members. The missions of higher ed institutions differ in subtle ways, but they all require broad freedom of inquiry and expression. This means that politically unpopular perspectives should be explored thoughtfully by students and faculty, and that conversation and debate should be guaranteed within “safe enough spaces”—environments in which everyone is protected from harassment and intimidation but in which no one is protected from being offended or having their minds changed.

June 1, 2022
By Josh Moody
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: Collin College has faced multiple complaints over academic freedom, leading to lawsuits from aggrieved former faculty members who argue they were fired for exercising their free speech rights. But the latest free speech complaint comes from a professor at Loyola University Chicago.

Though he doesn’t work for Collin College, Benjamin H. Johnson, a history professor at Loyola Chicago, said his dean contacted him regarding a complaint raised by Neil Matkin, the president of Collin College, over a petition that Johnson had circulated regarding the dismissal of a Collin professor.

June 1, 2022
By Heterodox Academy Announcement

Excerpt: After administering its Campus Expression Survey (CES) annually since 2018, Heterodox Academy today released a three-year analysis that examines how the climate on college campuses has evolved from 2019 until 2021.

Students increasingly agreed that the climate on their campus leads to self-censorship, and students’ reluctance to discuss controversial topics remained consistently high across all three years. Political party played the largest role in whether students were reluctant to share their views: 41% of Republican and 40% of Independent students were reluctant to discuss politics. Similar patterns followed in discussing race, gender, and sexual orientation. In spite of this, students made it clear that they value open inquiry and viewpoint diversity.

May 31, 2022
By James Kirchik
Common Sense with Bari Weiss

Rich Tafel and Urvashi Vaid had almost nothing in common. Tafel is a white Christian minister, an entrepreneur, and the founder of the Log Cabin Republicans, the leading group for gay and lesbian GOPers. Vaid, who died earlier this month at the age of 63, was an Indian-born progressive activist and a former director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the “intersectional” wing of the gay-rights movement. During their heyday in the 1990s, when issues like gays in the military, gays in the Boy Scouts, and same-sex marriage dominated headlines, the buttoned-down Tafel and the crunchy Vaid perfectly embodied their respective factions of that amorphous constituency known as the “LGBT community.”

But despite their many differences, this unlikely pair was united by a then-radical notion: that, as Tafel put it, “gays and lesbians deserved the right to live their lives as they wanted to.” For a very vocal portion of the alphabet people these days, gays and lesbians who do not accede to the full progressive agenda are traitors, the moral equivalent of a Jewish Nazi or a Black member of the Ku Klux Klan.

 

May 31, 2022
By SAVE

Excerpt: WASHINGTON – First Amendment free speech protections currently hang in the balance, affected by a variety of social cross-currents and political agendas. SAVE urges Republican and Democratic lawmakers to speak out forcefully to restore free speech in colleges and universities across the nation. National leaders such as Bill Maher and Elon Musk have called for an end to restrictive speech codes. Netflix recently instructed its employees to be tolerant of viewpoint diversity, or seek employment elsewhere. And 84% of college students say free speech rights are extremely or very important, according to a Knight/Ipsos poll.
 
Several recent developments proffer hope to proponents of campus free speech:
1. Earlier this month, Georgia enacted a law to strengthen campus free speech, including a provision designed to thwart the establishment of so-called “free speech zones.” . . .

May 29, 2022
By Dave Huber
The College Fix

Excerpt: St. Joseph’s University has ended up firing Professor Greg Manco, who over a year ago was suspended by the school for allegedly “biased or discriminatory” tweets regarding slavery reparations and racial bias training. The university’s action came earlier this month despite Manco having been cleared in an investigation into the matter, Broad and Liberty reports.