AAUP Publishes Official Policy on Campus Controversies

Ashley Thorne

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has released the final version of its policy statement "Ensuring Academic Freedom in Politically Controversial Academic Personnel Decisions." When the AAUP released in February the draft copy of the statement, NAS president Peter Wood critiqued it in two columns at the Chronicle of Higher Education's Innovations blog, and was quoted at length in Inside Higher Ed's article about it.

Peter noted the double standard in the AAUP statement with regard to activism:

The AAUP is, however, putting itself in a complicated position. It extols the willingness of faculty members to become social activists who use their academic positions to arouse the public. But it sees only danger in the public responding in kind. Activism apparently is good when pursued by academics bearing doubts about some aspects of society, but bad when society bears doubts about some aspects of the academy.

He observed the way the AAUP abuses the concept of academic freedom:

“Academic freedom” is construed by the AAUP as a firewall. Those inside can aim their weapons at those outside with impunity, but if those outside respond in anything other than humility, they offend against this fine principle.

And Peter contrasted the AAUP's declarations of commitment to academic freedom with example after recent example in which professors' and students' academic freedom was threatened - and the AAUP was silent. We should weigh the merits of this document, he argued, in terms of "not just what it says, but what the AAUP does and doesn't do."

The earlier draft was released for comment, but although Peter made many valuable recommendations, none were implemented in the final version. As Inside Higher Ed reports today, "The new version contains only minor changes (and no substantive policy shifts)."

  • Share

Most Commented

December 7, 2022


New Study Tracks Rise of DEI in STEM Departments, Associations, Grants, and Literature

A new study published today by the National Association of Scholars, Ideological Intensification, offers an in-depth quantitative analysis of just how far DEI has advanced into STEM fields....

January 9, 2023


NAS Celebrates the Nomination of Reform-Minded Trustees to the New College of Florida Board

The National Association of Scholars is delighted with Governor Ron DeSantis’ nomination of six education reformers to the Board of Trustees of the New College of Florida....

October 20, 2022


NAS Statement on Nomination of Ben Sasse for University of Florida President

We believe that Senator Sasse would make an excellent president of the University of Florida, and we urge the Board of Trustees to follow the search committee’s recommendation....

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

January 5, 2023


NAS Condemns the Attacks against Jordan Peterson

The National Association of Scholars condemns the unrelenting illiberal attacks being levied against Dr. Peterson and against anyone who dares push back against the enemies of intellectual f......