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Table of Contents

The Academic Bill of Rights: Yea or Nay?

The Academic Bill of Rights - What is It?

It's My Right!...

Thelmo Resolution in Support of Civility, Free Speech and Dialogue

Is Tolerance Enough

If We Agree in Love

The Responsible Use of Freedom

Sticks and Stones...

What's Out There: Researching Academic Freedom

Alumni Accomplishments

The Kenya Connection

Laurentian Reviews

Table of Contents

What’s Out There: Researching Academic Freedom
By Mark Mende and Rachel B. Peterson ’04

Academic freedom. That phrase has as many different interpretations as there are people who consider it. Since the founding of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in 1915, scores of publications have emerged—both print and electronic—each with its own ideas and opinions on the controversial topic. We’ve explored the Internet and some journal archives to compile a varied sample of resources regarding academic freedom. They represent a broad range of philosophical stances, and their inclusion here does not constitute St. Lawrence’s endorsement of their content, methodologies or positions.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP)
As stated on its Web site, “AAUP’s purpose is to advance academic freedom and shared governance, to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education, and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good.” The association was founded by Arthur O. Lovejoy and John Dewey in 1915, when “academic freedom” was a relatively new term (see President Sullivan’s comments on this in xxx). Its Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure (1940) is considered the definitive description of the association’s principles and purposes and is widely regarded by the academic community.

Membership is open to all faculty, librarians and academic professionals at accredited two- and four-year colleges and universities. There are currently 45,000 members nationwide. The association’s actions include assisting individual faculty members when their academic freedom and due process rights may have been violated, developing policy statements and procedural guidelines, and working with college and state legislatures to promote effective higher education legislation.

For more information, go to

Students for Academic Freedom
This is a national organization dedicated to “end[ing] the political abuse of the university and restore[ing] integrity to the academic mission as a disinterested pursuit of knowledge.” There are active chapters at 135 universities nationwide. The Web site,, is a communication center for those concerned with the issue of academic freedom. The site features articles on academic freedom from across the country, reports of national and state legislation regarding academic freedom, and bulletin boards and forums where individuals can post messages regarding academic bias and political indoctrination in the classroom. It also provides instructions for researching faculty bias using voter registration records.

The Students for Academic Freedom handbook states, “Students for Academic Freedom is a movement dedicated to the ideas that 1) a university is an educational institution, not a political party; 2) its resources and authority should be used for learning and the pursuit of knowledge, not to indoctrinate students in a political ideology; and 3) the principles of academic freedom and a good education require that students have access to a diversity of viewpoints in courses, required reading texts, and in campus activities programs.”

With the motto “You can’t get a good education if they’re only telling you half the story,” the organization addresses political indoctrination in the classroom, unfair grading on the basis of political views, and a lack of diversity in reading requirements of college courses. It lists the Academic Bill of Rights and Student Bill of Rights as two of its basic texts. Though the mission and motto could apply to liberals and conservatives alike, the site primarily publicizes the concerns of conservative students who feel their rights as members of an academic community are jeopardized by the overwhelming presence of liberal professors.

The Parents and Students for Academic Freedom organization,, is founded on the same basic principles as Students for Academic Freedom but deals with issues in the K-12 realm. It, too, fights to expose what it sees as the increasing politicization of the American school system while promoting the adoption of an Academic Bill of Rights for K-12 schools.

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)
FIRE is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing public attention to the issue of academic freedom on America’s campuses. As stated in its mission, “The mission of FIRE is to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s increasingly repressive and partisan colleges and universities . . . FIRE’s core mission is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them.” The FIRE Web site,, includes links to recent academic freedom-related events around the nation, links to articles regarding academic-freedom and free-speech issues, and a case archive where the public can review academic-freedom issues handled by FIRE at colleges and universities across the country.

Other Sites – Titled Academic Freedom, this site is a compilation of information related to issues of academic freedom and freedom of speech on college campuses – Internet and Academic Freedom; Law and Academic Freedom; Academic Freedom for Students; Freedom of the College Press; Academic Freedom for Faculty; Academic Freedom History; Academic Freedom Around the World; Academic Freedom in K-12 Schools: and Academic Freedom and Religion. The site is maintained by a Ph.D. student and has a heavy focus on court cases and news of pertinent happenings on campuses. It gives a very good overview of a broad range of topics that can be very helpful. The author makes a strong effort to give both sides of the issue with a listing of links that includes Conservative Views on Academic Freedom. - This site is part of the overall Human Rights Watch Web site. As part of the group’s efforts to monitor abuses of the civil and personal rights and freedoms of persons all over the world, Human Rights Watch keeps an eye on potential abuses. The statement of purpose on the site notes: “The academic freedom program aims to monitor, expose, and mobilize concerted action to challenge threats to academic freedom worldwide, and to foster greater scholarly and media attention to the critical role played by institutions of higher education in the promotion of human rights and the development and preservation of civil society.” The site includes links to casework by the group, as well as its Academic Freedom Committee members, Collaborative Efforts, Thematic Research and Reports, and three sets of yearly World Reports. In addition, there is a list of links to news articles. - Academic Freedom in the USA is a scholarly work by Ronald B. Standler that seeks to define academic freedom in modern terms, as well as document its history and evolution. Standler is an attorney and consultant based in Massachusetts who sets out to disprove the popular notion that academic freedom is derived from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In his conclusion, Standler states,“…academic freedom in the USA is a matter of internal policy at colleges and universities. Academic freedom in the USA is not a constitutional right belonging to professors. Academic freedom can be a contract right granted to professors by the administration of a college or university, but contract rights are privately negotiated, not imposed by the Constitution.” – In an article titled “The War on Academic Freedom” in The Nation, Kristine McNeil discusses the climate of academic freedom on college campuses in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the war on terrorism that followed shortly afterward. The article details assaults on academic freedom committed in the name of the war on terror. - The Student Association for Freedom of Expression is a group based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Its mission statement declares that its function is to organize support for freedom of speech and other forms of freedom of expression. The group’s main focus is areas of censorship related to the Internet. It provides numerous resources for people to find out about how their organizations are censoring the flow of electronic information.

International Web Resources
The issue of academic freedom is certainly not limited to the United States. These Web sites indicate how the issue of academic freedom affects people around the globe.

Great Britain: Council for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards (CAFAS)

Canada: Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS)

Europe: European Centre for Higher Education (UNESCO-CEPES)

Print Resources to Consider:

 “Academic Freedom in Higher Education in the Deep South”
Stanley H. Smith
Journal of Educational Sociology , Vol. 32, No. 6, Southern Higher Education Since the Gaines Decision: A Twenty Year Review. (Feb., 1959), pp. 297-308.  

“Academic Freedom and the State: Reflections on the Uses of Knowledge”
Sheila Slaughter
The Journal of Higher Education , Vol. 59, No. 3. (May - Jun., 1988), pp. 241-262.  

The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses .
Harvey A. Silverglate and Alan Charles Kors
Harper Perennial, 1998.

 “Academic Freedom and Tenure: Between Fiction and Reality”
William G. Tierney
The Journal of Higher Education , Vol. 75, No. 2. (Mar. - Apr., 2004), pp. 161-177.

Mark Mende is St. Lawrence’s Web master. After working in several capacities in the University communications office in summer and fall 2004, Rachel Peterson began a training program with Amica Mutual Insurance Company in January 2005.