Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Expansion of Academic Freedom at the University of California

Just got pointed to this revision of the UC Faculty Code of Conduct which was recently approved by the UC Regents: http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/aar/jule.pdf

I was pointed to it by Greg Pasternack from UC Davis who has been a major force in trying to guarantee academic freedoms at UC Davis.

  Four years and one month after the UCD Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility first raise the alarm about the danger of unjust discipline faculty in the UC system may face (and certainty have faced) for speech and actions regarding institutional matters, I am very happy to report to you all that on July 18 the UC Regents approved our proposed amendment to APM-015 that guarantees faculty academic freedom to speak out about institutional matters.  Given the number of judges that have ruled that faculty speech on institutional matters is *not* protected by the First Amendment, even in public universities, getting this freedom inscribed into APM-015 provides a policy-based guarantee no longer reliant on external interpretation. 
  See attached, notably the underlines in attachment 2.  You can also download it from http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/aar/aar.html under "committee on educational policy" 
  This is the greatest expansion in academic freedom in the history of the UC system, because all previous notions of academic freedom limited the application of the idea to just one's area of scholarship.  Prior to this, the biggest change was to no longer require "dispassionate" scholarship.  However, academic freedom is no longer shackled to scholarship.  We are free to speak on all institutional matters, whether they are within our sphere of scholarship or not.  We may do so using any forum or medium. 
  Now go out and use your freedom to stir up brilliant controversies ;) 
Best wishes, 
-Prof. Greg Pasternack

The section he called particular attention to is in line 4 in the part on "Professional Rights of Faculty" which reads "freedom to address any matter of institutional policy or action when acting as a member of the faculty whether or not as a member of an agency of institutional governance." This clearly relates to some real and perceived challenges to academic freedom at various UCs and it is good to have a formal policy that says such a freedom is a right of the faculty.

You go Greg ...

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