Academic Freedom: New Recommendations

Fall
2010
Resolution Number: 
13.03
Category: 
General Concerns
Status: 
Completed

Whereas, In the Garcetti v. Caballos court decision of 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court majority ruled that when public employees such as faculty speak, “pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline”;
Whereas, In response to the above case and the more recent cases of Hong v. Grant, Renken v. Gregory, and Gorum v. Sessions the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) created a subcommittee in 2006 for the purpose of “surveying the landscape of legal and professional protections for academic freedom at public colleges and universities”; and
Whereas, The AAUP’s subcommittee has recommended three options of proposed policy language that may be incorporated in faculty handbooks as follows:

  1. Academic freedom is the freedom to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression, and to speak or write without institutional discipline or restraint on matters of public concern as well as on matters related to professional duties and the functioning of the University. Academic responsibility implies the faithful performance of professional duties and obligations, the recognition of the demands of the scholarly enterprise, and the candor to make it clear that when one is speaking on matters of public interest, one is not speaking for the institution.
  2. Academic freedom is the freedom to teach, both in and outside the classroom, to conduct research and to publish the results of those investigations, to address any matter of institutional policy or action whether or not as a member of an agency of institutional governance. Professors should also have the freedom to address the larger community with regard to any matter of social, political, economic, or other interests, without institutional discipline or restraint, save in response to fundamental violation of professional ethics or statements that suggest disciplinary incompetence; or
  3. Academic freedom is the freedom to teach, both in and outside the classroom, to conduct research and to publish the results of those investigations, and to address any matter of institutional policy or action whether or not as a member of an agency of institutional governance. Professors should also have the freedom to speak to any matter of social, political, economic, or other interest to the larger community, subject to the academic standard of conduct applicable to each. (AAUP, 2010, pp. 87 -88)
    Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges recommend that local senates review their current policy on academic freedom to determine if it is aligned with the latest AAUP perspective;
    Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges encourage local senates to refine and/or develop a policy on academic freedom that reflects the current AAUP perspective; and
    Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges encourage local senates to include such a policy in faculty handbooks and board policies, and collaborate with unions to ensure that the rights delineated in such policies are protected.
    See AAUP 2010 Document at: http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/protectvoice/actionitems/.
    MSC Disposition: Local Senates