Latest News and Commentary: National

November 30, 2022
By Jeffrey Sachs
Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpt: The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is blessed with terrible critics. As its public profile has risen sharply in recent years, so has the volume of criticism against it. Unfortunately, those critiques are almost uniformly bad.

With limited exceptions, critics of FIRE tend to rehearse the same tired arguments: that it receives right-wing money (so what?), often attacks the campus left (can you blame them?), and is uncharitable to college administrators (rightly so). If this was the best that FIRE’s critics could offer, the group would deserve our unqualified support. But better criticisms do exist. Here are just a few, listed in order of least concerning to most.

November 30, 2022
By Wenyuan Wu
Minding the Campus

Excerpt: As Florida’s midterm victories by conservative candidates are celebrated across the country as a blueprint for the counter-woke movement, U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker rebuffed the trend. After issuing a preliminary injunction order in August against the employment provisions in the Individual Freedom Act (IFA), also known as the Stop Wrongs against Our Kids and Employees (“Stop W.O.K.E.”) Act, Judge Walker followed up by striking down the bill’s higher education provisions.

To start, the intelligentsia and their bureaucratic counterparts are now more emboldened to promote race-based programming, not as a construct of academic freedom, but as an issue of compelled speech.

November 28, 2022
By Hollis Robbins
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: Now that the dust has settled and the drama of midterm elections has come and gone, I have some thoughts on the Stanford University–hosted conference on academic freedom held earlier this month, from my perspective as the only dean on the program and as a scholar whose political affiliations are not wholly aligned with the generally right-libertarian positions of the conference organizers.

My primary takeaway after the two-day conference is that expressions of trauma have no political affiliation. The discourse of trauma, which has largely been seen as a phenomenon of the academic left, has as much purchase and relevance on the right.

 

November 26, 2022
By Post Editorial Board
New York Post

Excerpt: If universities don’t protect free speech and open debate, they’re no better than finishing schools, if not outright propaganda factories — serving not the nation or the search for truth, but simply the dominant ideology. But that’s increasingly what US colleges have become, routinely closing the door to dissent by shutting down professors, researchers and students who challenge the received wisdom. How many still deserve the vast public support they still receive?

The latest example: Stanford professor of medicine Jay Bhattacharya, who with profs from Harvard and Oxford co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration in 2020, early in the pandemic, flagging the huge cost of lockdowns, both medical and social.

November 25, 2022
By Richard Vedder
James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal

Excerpt: Jumping to conclusions is sometimes a big mistake. I recently became puzzled and mildly infuriated when I read that Stanford University was going to have a conference on freedom of expression and academic freedom—but was admitting only invitees, allowing no press or other interested persons to attend. That sounded like limiting expression and dissent to me.

Then I read the news accounts further and realized that Stanford’s graduate business school was making a prudent decision. More specifically, the school’s Classical Liberal Initiative was inviting a blue-chip group of serious scholars, entrepreneurs, and free-speech activists for what looked like a stellar conference. It aimed “to identify ways to restore academic freedom, open inquiry, and freedom of speech and expression on campus and in the larger culture.”

November 23, 2022
By Will Creeley and Adam Steinbaugh
Foundation for Individual Rights in Expression

Excerpt: On Nov. 15, Missouri began accepting public comments on a broad new rule, proposed by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, that seeks to keep books out of libraries rather than welcoming would-be readers in. The proposed rule will impose sharp limits and heavy burdens on what books Missourians can access — and what events they may host — in their community libraries.

November 23, 2022
By Heterodox Academy (HxA)

Excerpt: Since 2015, HxA has connected professors, administrators, staff, and students who value open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in higher education.

To advance that mission, HxA’s 5,000+ members have shared ideas, convened gatherings, developed tools, conducted research, and built communities organized by academic discipline and region.

Today, HxA announces a major next step in our work: the Heterodox Academy Campus Community Network

November 20, 2022
By Erwin Chemerinsky
Los Angeles Times

Excerpt: The great complexity of free speech issues on campus was revealed this semester at Berkeley Law. How are the free speech rights of a student group to not invite speakers with particular views to be balanced against the desire to have all viewpoints expressed and have no one feel excluded?

There are no easy paths to take. But I am convinced that as campus administrators we have to constantly express our values: our commitment that educational institutions be places where all views can be expressed and where all students feel included. But making that a reality seems harder than ever before.

November 19, 2022
By Megan Menchaca
Austin American-Statesman

Excerpt: The University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously adopted on Thursday a version of the "Chicago Statement," a widely known set of principles affirming an institution’s commitment to free speech.

The UT Regents approved the UT System’s "Commitment to Freedom of Speech and Expression" during its quarterly meeting to acknowledge and continue the UT System’s “long-standing commitment” to protect the freedom of speech, expression and inquiry on campus, according to the meeting agenda.

November 19, 2022
By Graham Hillard
National Review

Excerpt: A troubling course is testing the University of Chicago’s commitment to academic freedom. Should the institution stand on principle? Yes. But the situation is complicated.

“The Problem of Whiteness” was designed by Professor Rebecca Journey and first offered last winter. When Journey relisted the course for the upcoming academic quarter, a UChicago student denounced her plans, engendering a string of death threats and harassment against her online. Whether the class will now proceed is an open question, and a victory for the censors may well be at hand.