UMass Chan Medical School policy restricts what faculty can say about capital punishment

Alex Morey
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: A recently-imposed policy at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School imposes tight new restrictions on what information faculty may share about capital punishment. The “School of Medicine Statement Regarding Teaching Faculty and Capital Punishment,” sent to faculty over the summer, apologizes for the university’s prior failure “to actively oppose the current state of US [sic] capital punishment” and announces that teaching faculty will now be required to “acknowledge and abide by” the administration’s “position” on capital punishment moving forward.

The troubling statement also bans faculty from actions that “could” enable or “contribute” to the use of capital punishment, including “providing . . . information” to “governments engaged in execution by lethal injection.” But the policy violates faculty’s constitutional rights by limiting a broad range of speech — for example, research that simply could be used by another to carry out capital punishment — and the university concedes that it reaches “even lawful activities.”